Health Beliefs and Behaviors

Different Asian cultures apply various models in perceiving and interpreting symptoms and illness. These models influence their decisions to seek medical treatment and services. A key principle shared by many Asian cultures is a holistic view of health, with an emphasis on balance and harmony between the individual’s mind, body, and environment (Trinh- Shevrin, 2009). There is a considerable intra-cultural diversity among Filipino Americans with regards to health beliefs and health practices.

Filipino Americans who have been in the U.S for a long time are more acculturated to the American health system than those who recently migrated. The less acculturated immigrants adhere more to traditional systems of medicine and prefer indigenous healing practices, such as the use of complementary and alternative medicine.

Studies of health practices among Filipino Americans suggest that people originally from rural areas in the Philippines are more knowledgeable regarding home remedies, traditional healing techniques, and supernatural ailments, whereas those coming from the urban areas rely more on Western medical interventions and over-the-counter medications. However, healing practices in both groups are utilized simultaneously as well (Montepio, 1986/1987; Vance, 1999). Filipinos, especially those who migrated late in life, have the tendency to self-diagnose, self-medicate, and seek alternative therapies. This practice causes great concern to most health care providers, since these older adults only seek medical care when their illness is already very serious or in an advanced stage, leading to missed opportunities for optimal treatment. Community-based efforts to promote equitable access to health care for Filipino American older adults through outreach using the support of Filipino American socie

ties ( e.g. Knights of Columbus) will likely lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment.