Herbal & Western Medicine Use Amongst Vietnamese Americans

Hoang 1With the assistance of the Honors Early Research Grant, I conducted a research project that evaluated the perception and usage of herbal medication in Vietnamese American population. Although I did not have enough courses to register for the Junior/Senior Thesis, the Honors Program was very flexible and supportive of my desire to be involved in research.

Growing up in Vietnam, I have always had an interest in herbal medicines and their interactions with Western medications. While formulating the research hypothesis, I realized the Vietnamese American population is underrepresented in medical literature. Very little research has been done on this patient population, thus very limited data is available on their medication adherence and drug-taking behaviors. This group of patient has also traditionally been associated with lower income and less healthcare access. This finding has fueled my passion to conduct a meaningful research that will help improve their health outcome and communication with provider. Under the supervision of Dr. Judith Barr, a professor in the School of Pharmacy, I devised a project that consisted of 2 phases- a focus group and a survey.

The purpose of the focus group was to collect responses to the research questions. Patients answered questions related to their perception of herbal medicines, the source of information, and how taking herbal medicine affected their adherence to the Western medications to treat hypertension and diabetes. The grant money enabled me to purchase gift cards as compensation for the participants of the focus group. These responses helped us to evaluate our current understanding of Vietnamese American patients and identify any missing aspects. The results from the focus group will be used to validate the survey questions and modify them if needed. Once finalized, the survey will be administered in a larger patient population at Dorchester House Multi-Service center.

Eventually, I aim to publish information regarding the use of herbal/Eastern medicine by Vietnamese American patients gathered from the survey. I want to raise awareness in the healthcare community of the prevalence and importance of concurrent herbal and Western medicine usage among Vietnamese American patients. I will encourage providers to discuss with patients more frequently and in an understanding manner.

Jade Hoang, Pharmacy