Encyclopedia of Medical Anthropology

2004 Edition
| Editors: Carol R. Ember, Melvin Ember

Hmong in Laos and the United States

  • Kathleen A. Culhane-Pera
  • Dia Cha
  • Peter Kunstadter
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/0-387-29905-X_75

Alternative Names

Miao or Meo (considered derogatory by Hmong).

Location and Linguistic Affiliation

Hmong are a distinct ethno-linguistic group who originated in China and who migrated into northern Southeast Asia during the 19th century. After the end of the “Secret War in Laos” in 1975, many Hmong fled to Thailand and then were resettled around the world, including the United States. Most Hmong in the United States speak two closely related dialects of the Miao-Yao language: White Hmong (Hmoob Dawb or Moob Dlawb) and Green Hmong or Blue Hmong (Hmoob Ntsuab or Moob Lees). These two groups were traditionally distinguished by their dialect, dress, housing style, and other cultural differences.

The Hmong diaspora is extensive, with over seven million in China, one million in Southeast Asia (Schein, 2000), and almost 16,000 in France, Canada, French Guyana, Australia, and Argentina (Rice, 2000). According to the 2002 Census, 169,428 Hmong live in the United States, with most in...


Refugee Camp Central Intelligence Agency Evil Spirit Ancestral Spirit Hmong Woman 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.
    Arax, M. (1994). Cancer case ignites culture clash: Hmong parents refuse to agree to court-ordered chemotherapy for teen-age daughter. Los Angeles Times Nov. 21, v113, pA3, Col 1.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Arax, M. (1995). Hmong’s sacrifice of puppy reopens cultural wounds: Immigrant shaman’s act stirs outrage in Fresno, but he believes it was only way to cure his ill wife. Los Angeles Times Dec. 16, v114, pA1.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Baker, P. T., Hanna, J. M., & Baker, T. S. (1986). The changing Samoans: Behavior and health in transition. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Barney, G. L. (1957). Christianity and innovation in Meo culture: A case study in missionization. Unpublished MA thesis, University of MN.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bliatout, B. T. (1986). Guidelines for mental health professionals to help Hmong clients seek traditional healing treatment. In Glenn L. Hendricks, et al. (Eds.), The Hmong in transition. New York: Center for Migration Studies.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bliatout, B. T. (1993). Hmong death customs: Traditional and acculturated. In D. P. Irish, K. F., Lundquist, & V. Jenkins-Nelson (Eds.), Ethnic variations in dying, death and grief: Diversity in universality. Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bouvier, B. (1994). Hmong need more respect. (Letter). Bangkok Post, August 19.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bruce, H., & Xiong, C. (2003). Pregnancy complications. In K. A. Culhane-Pera, D. E. Vawter, P. Xiong, B. Babbitt, & M. Solberg (Eds.), Healing by heart. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Brunnquell, D., & Kuracheck, S. (2003). Children with high fevers. In K. A. Culhane-Pera, D. E. Vawter, P. Xiong, B. Babbitt, & M. Solberg (Eds.), Healing by heart. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Capps, L. L. (1994). Change and continuity in the medical culture of the Hmong in Kansas City. Medical Anthropology Quarterly (new series), 8(2), 161–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Cha, Dia. (2000). Hmong American concepts of health, healing, and illness and their experience with conventional medicine (Doctoral Ph.D. dissertation). University of Colorado at Boulder: Boulder, CO.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Cha, Dia, & Chagnon, J. (1993). Farmer, war-wife, refugee, repatriate: A needs assessment of women repatriating to Laos. Washington, DC: Asia Resource Center.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Cha, Dia, & Small, C. A. (1994). Policy lessons from Lao and Hmong women in Thai refugee camps. World Development, 22, 1045–1059.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Chindarsi, N. (1976). The religion of the Hmong Njua. Bangkok, Thailand: The Siam Society.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Choy, J., Foote, D., Bojanowski, J., Yamashita R., & Vichinsky, E. (2000). Outreach strategies for Southeast Asian communities: Experience, practice, and suggestions for approaching Southeast Asian immigrant and refugee communities to provide thalassemia education and trait testing. Journal of Pediatric Hematology Oncology, 22(6), 588–592.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Cooper, R. (1984). Resource scarcity and the Hmong response: Patterns of settlement and economy in transition. National University of Singapore: Singapore University Press.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Cooper, R., Tapp, N., Lee, G. Y., & Schworer-Kohl, G. (1996). The Hmong. Bangkok, Thailand: Artasia Press.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Culhane-Pera, K. A. (1989). Analysis of cultural beliefs and power dynamics in disagreements about health care of Hmong children. Master’s thesis. Mpls, MN: University of MN.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Culhane-Pera, K. A. (2003). Hospice patient with gallbladder cancer. In K. A. Culhane-Pera, D. E. Vawter, P. Xiong, B. Babbitt, & M. Solberg (Eds.), Healing by heart. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Culhane-Pera, K. A., Nafali, E. D., Jacobson, C., & Xiong, Z. B. (2002). Cultural feeding practices and child-raising philosophy contribute to iron deficiency anemia in refugee Hmong children. Ethnicity and Disease, 12(2).Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Culhane-Pera, K. A., & Thao, V. (2003). Children with high fevers. In K. A. Culhane-Pera, D. E. Vawter, P. Xiong, B. Babbitt, & M. Solberg (Eds.), Healing by heart, Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Culhane-Pera, K. A., Vawter, D. E., Xiong, P., Babbitt B., & Solberg, M. (Eds.), Healing by heart. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Culhane-Pera, K. A., & Xiong, Phua. (2003). Hmong culture: Tradition and change. In K. A. Culhane-Pera, D. E. Vawter, P. Xiong, B. Babbitt, & M. Solberg (Eds.), Healing by heart. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Donnelly, N. D. (1994). The changing lives of refugee Hmong women. Seattle: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Fadiman, A. (1998). The spirit catches you and you fall down: A Hmong child, her American doctors and the collision of two cultures. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Franks, A. L., Berg, C. J., Kane, M. A., Browne, B. B., Sikes, R. K., Elsea, W. R., & Burton, A. H. (1989). Hepatitis B virus infection among children born in the United States to Southeast Asian refugees. New England Journal of Medicine, 321(19), 1301–1305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Gjerdingen, D. K., & Lor, V. (1997). Hepatitis B status of Hmong patients. Journal of the American Board of Family Practice, 10(5), 322–328.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Gjerdingen, D. K., Ireland, M., & Chaloner, K. M. (1996). Growth of Hmong children. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 150(12), 1295–1298.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Haga, Chuck, & Her, Lucy, Y. (2001). At 18, she steps up to preserve a family of 13. The Star Tribune, December 9, 2001.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Helman, C. G. (2000). Culture, health and illness: An introduction for health professionals (4th ed.). Woburn, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Henry, R. R. (1999). Measles, Hmong and metaphor: Culture change and illness management under conditions of immigration. Medical Anthropology Quarterly (new series), 13(1), 32–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Her, Mymee, & Heu, C. P. (2002). Domestic violence. In K. A. Culhane-Pera, D. E. Vawter, P. Xiong, B. Babbitt, & M. Solberg (Eds.), Healing by heart. In press.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Hmong National Development, Inc. (2001, Fall). HND Links: A Quarterly Newsletter. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Hmoob Thaj Yeeb. (1998). Taking a Public Stand: Completing the journey from war to peace through the ending of violence. Initiative for violence-free families and communities. St. Paul, MN: Hmoob Thaj Yeeb.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Hones, D. F., & Cha, C. S. (1999). Educating New Americans: Immigrant lives and learning. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Kirton, E. S. (1985). The locked medicine cabinet: Hmong health care in America. Doctoral dissertation, University of Santa Barbara, CA.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Kunstadter, P. (2000). Hmong marriage patterns in relation to social change. In G. Y. Lee, J. Michaud, C. Culas, & N. Tapp (Eds.), The Hmong in Southeast Asia: Current issues. Chiang Mai: Silkworm.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Kunstadter, P. (2003). Controlling fertility. In K. A. Culhane-Pera, D. E. Vawter, P. Xiong, B. Babbitt, & M. Solberg (Eds.), Healing by heart. Paper presented at Am. Public Health Assoc. meeting, Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Kunstadter, P., & Kunstadter, S. L. (1990). Health transitions in Thailand. In J. C. Caldwell, S. Findley, P. Caldwell, G. Santow, W. Cosford, J. Braid, & D. Broers-Freeman (Eds.). What we know about health transition (Vol. 1). Canberra: Health Transition Centre, The Australian National University.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Kunstadter, P., Kunstadter, S. L., Podhisita, C., & Leepreecha, P. (1993). Demographic variables in fetal and child mortality: Hmong in Thailand. Social Science and Medicine, 36(9), 1109–1120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Kunstadter, P., & Vang, VaKue. (2002). Mortality transition among Hmong refugees in Fresno County, California, 1980–2001. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Leepreecha, P. (2001). Kinship and identity among Hmong in Thailand. Unpublished Doctoral dissertation. Seattle, WA: University of Washington.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Lemoine, Jacques. (1986). Shamanism in the context of Hmong resettlement. In Glenn L. Hendricks et al. (Eds.), The Hmong In transition. New York: Center for Migration Studies.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Lo, F. T. (2001). The promised land: Socioeconomic reality of the Hmong people in urban America 1976–2000. Lima, Ohio: Wyndham Hall PressGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Long, Lynellyn D. (1993). Ban Vinai: The refugee camp. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Lyfoung, P. (2003). Domestic violence. In K. A. Culhane-Pera, D. E. Vawter, P. Xiong, B. Babbitt, & M. Solberg (Eds.), Healing by heart. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Markides, K. S., & Coreil, J. (1986). The health of Hispanics in the Southwestern United States: An epidemiological paradox. Public Health Reports, 101, 253–265.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Mills, P. K., & Yang, R. (1997). Cancer incidence in the Hmong of Central California, United States, 1987–94. Cancer Causes Control, 8(5), 705–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. (1993). Lead poisoning associated with use of traditional ethnic remedies—California 1991–92. 42(27), 521.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Morechand, G. (1968). Le Chamanisme des Hmong. Bulletin de l“Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient LXIV.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Mouacheuapo, S. (1999). Attitudes of Hmong patients to surgery. Paper presented at Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians Annual Spring Research Forum. Minneapolis, MN.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    New York Times. (1994). Girl flees after clash of cultures on illness: Should Hmong refugees have to accept Western medicine? November 12, 1994, p. 6.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Ovesen, J. (1995). A minority enters the nation state: A case study of a Hmong community in Vietiane Province, Laos. Sweden: Uppsala University.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Pfeifer, M. E. (2002). U.S. census 2000: Trends in Hmong population distribution across the regions of the United States. St. Paul, MN: Hmong Cultural Center.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Plotnikoff, G. (2002). Child with Down syndrome and a heart defect. In K. A. Culhane-Pera, D. E. Vawter, P. Xiong, B. Babbitt, & M. Solberg (Eds.), Healing by heart. In press.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Poss, J. E. (1989). Hepatitis B virus infection in Southeast Asian children. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 3(6),311–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Quincy, K. (1995). Hmong: History of a people. Cheney, WA: Washington University Press.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Rice, P. L. (1997). Giving birth in a new home: Childbirth traditions and the experience of motherhood among Hmong women from Laos. Asian Studies Review, 20(3), 133–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Rice, Pranee L. (2000). The Hmong way: Hmong women and reproduction. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Robinson, W. C. (1998). Terms of refuge: The Indochinese exodus and the international response. New York, NY: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Schein, L. (2000). Minority rules: The Miao and the feminine in China’s culture politics. Durham & London: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Snyder, D. M., & Kunstadter, P. (2001). Providing health care in a multicultural community. In D. Wedding (Ed.), Behavior and Medicine (3rd ed., pp. 49–59). Seattle, Toronto, Göttingen, Bern: Hogrefe and Huber.Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Spring, M. A. (1989). Ethnopharmacologic analysis of medicinal plants used by laotian Hmong refugees in Minnesota. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 26, 65–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    Spring, M. A. (2001). Reproductive health and fertility of Hmong immigrants in Minnesota. Doctoral dissertation. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Spring, M. A., Ross, P. J., Etkin, N. L., & Deinard, A. S. (1995). Sociocultural factors in the use of prenatal care by Hmong women in Minneapolis. American Journal of Public Health, 85(7), 1015–1017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    Spring, M. A., & Lochungvu, M. (2003). Family planning. In K. A. Culhane-Pera, D. E. Vawter, P. Xiong, B. Babbitt, & M. Solberg (Eds.), Healing by heart. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Strohl, L. (2000, May). Asian ascending. The Horizon Magazine.Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    Symonds, P. V. (2003). Calling in the soul: Gender and cycle of life in a Hmong village. Seattle: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Tapp, N. (1986). The Hmong of Thailand: Opium people of the Golden Triangle. London, UK: Anti-Slavery Society.Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    Thao, Christopher T. (1986). Hmong Customs on marriage, divorce and the rights of married women. In Johns, Brenda, & David Strecker. (Eds.), The Hmong World. New Haven, CT: Yale Southeast Asia Studies.Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    Thao, X. (1986). Hmong perception of illness and traditional ways of healing. In Glenn L. Hendricks et al. (Eds.), The Hmong in transition. New York: Center for Migration Studies.Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    Trueba, H. T., Jacobs L., & Kirton, E. S. (1990). Cultural conflict and adaptation: The case of Hmong children in American society. New York: The Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Tuttle, C. R., & Dewey, K. G. (1996). Potential cost savings for Medi-Cal, AFDC, food stamps, and WIS programs associated with increasing breast-feeding among low-income Hmong women in California. Journal of American Dietetic Association, 96(9), 885–890.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. 74.
    Tuttle, C. R., & Dewey, K. G. (1994). Determinants of infant feeding choices among Southeast Asian immigrants in Northern California. Journal of American Dietetic Association, 94(3), 282–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. 75.
    Vawter, D. E., & Babbitt, B. (1997). Hospice care for terminally ill Hmong patients: A good cultural fit? Minnesota Medicine, 80(11), 42–44.Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    Warner, R. (1999). Shooting at the moon: The story of American clandestine war in Laos. South Royalton Vermont: Steerforth Press.Google Scholar
  77. 77.
    Weldon, C. (1999). Tragedy in paradise: A country doctor at war in Laos. Bangkok: Asia Books.Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    Westermeyer, J. (1988). A matched pairs study of depression among Hmong refugees with particular reference to predisposing factors and treatment outcome. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 23, 64–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. 79.
    Westermeyer, J., Neider, J., & Vang, T. F. (1984). Acculturation and mental health: A study of Hmong refugees at 1.5 and 3.5 years postmigration. Social Science and Medicine, 18(1), 87–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. 80.
    Westermeyer, J., & Thao, X. (1986). Cultural beliefs and surgical procedures. Journal of American Medical Association, 255(23), 3301–3302.Google Scholar
  81. 81.
    Westermeyer, J., Lyfoung, T., & Neider, J. (1989). An epidemic of opium dependence among Asian refugees in Minnesota: Characteristics and causes. British Journal of Addiction, 84, 785–789.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. 82.
    Wheeler, S. R. (1998). Hmong parents strive to connect: Cultural rift divide adults from children. The Denver Post. Nov. 15, 1998: B1, B5.Google Scholar
  83. 83.
    Wright, A. (1986). A never ending refugee camp: The explosive birthrate in Ban Vinai. Unpublished paper, Bangkok: ThailandGoogle Scholar
  84. 84.
    Xiong, P., & Culhane-Pera, K. A. (1995). Hmong perceptions and attitudes about immunizations. Paper presented at Hmong National Education Conference, St.Paul, MN.Google Scholar
  85. 85.
    Xiong Z. B. (2000). Hmong American family problem-solving interactions: An analytic induction analysis. Doctoral dissertation. St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
  86. 86.
    Yang, Dao. (1991). The Hmong: Enduring traditions. In Judy Lewis (Ed.), Minority cultures of Laos: Kammu, Lua’, Lahu, Hmong, and Iu-Mien. Sacramento, CA: Southeast Asia Community Resource Center.Google Scholar
  87. 87.
    Yang, Dao, with Blake, J. (1993). Hmong at the turning point. Minneapolis, MN: Yang Dao/WorldBridge Associates.Google Scholar
  88. 88.
    Yang, P. (2000). A case of thalassemia in a Fresno Hmong child repeatedly misdiagnosed as a respiratory disorder. Department of Family Medicine, UCSF-Fresno Medical Education Program. Personal communication.Google Scholar
  89. 89.
    Yang, P., & Murphy, N. (1994). Hmong in the’ 90s: Stepping toward the future. St. Paul: Hmong American Partnership.Google Scholar
  90. 90.
    Zander, D. B., & Xiong, L. P. (1996). The effects of problem gambling on Southeast Asian families and their adjustment to life in Minnesota. St. Paul, MN: The Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen A. Culhane-Pera
  • Dia Cha
  • Peter Kunstadter

There are no affiliations available