Tips for Clinicians: Patient and Family Education

It is important to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate information (Allen et al., 2004). Many elders have retained the oral tradition of communication. This is evidenced by the number of elder Hmong who remain in contact with family members back in Laos and Thailand by sending audiotaped messages in lieu of written letters. The audio and video method of communication has been transferred to health education (Gerdner, Xiong, & Yang, 2006).

Health care programs should not focus on individual health in isolation of the family (Frye, 1995). It is recommended that education programs support the interdependence of the family unit.

Frye (1995) suggests cultural imagery as a meaningful approach to health education for Hmong elders who are not be able to read either English or Hmong. There are a number of oral folk tales that feature a tiger to symbolize treachery. The cultural response is for the family to demonstrate solidarity against the treachery. Frye (1995) adapted this imagery for a Hmong man faced with “overwhelming stress” but was ashamed to seek social support. And “when the stress was symbolized as the treacherous tiger that he could not face alone, he was culturally able to ask for help from his clan family and his network of friends” (Frye, 1995, p. 278).