Keeping healthy! Whose responsibility is it anyway? Vietnamese Canadian women and their healthcare providers' perspectives

Tam Truong Donnelly, William McKellin
Nursing Inquiry 2007, 14 (1): 2-12
Understanding how healthcare responsibility is distributed will give insight on how health-care is delivered and how members of a society are expected to practice health-care. The raising cost of health-care has resulted in restructuring of the existing Canadian healthcare system toward a system that controls costs by placing more healthcare responsibility on the individual. This shift might create more difficulty for immigrants and refugees to obtain equitable health-care and put blame on them when they experience illness. This paper is drawn from the results of a larger qualitative study exploring Vietnamese Canadian women's breast cancer and cervical cancer screening practices. Interview data were gathered from 15 Vietnamese Canadian women and six healthcare providers. We will demonstrate that (a) despite the strong influence of individualism, Vietnamese women and their healthcare providers value both individual liberty and the interrelationship between individual and society; (b) limited funding and unequal distribution of healthcare resources impacted how immigrant and refugee women practice health-care. Thus, motivating and fostering immigrant and refugee women's healthcare practice require both individual and institutional effort. To foster immigrant and refugees' healthcare practices, healthcare policy makers and providers need to consider how to distribute healthcare resources that meet immigrants' and refugees' healthcare needs in the most equitable way.

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