Did you know that Vietnamese is the seventh most spoken language in the U.S.? About 1 million people speak it at home. Census numbers from 2000 put the total number of Vietnamese living in the U.S. at 1.2 million. That’s sizable.
Bringing with them a strong Buddhism influence, Vietnamese have their own unique way of looking at healthcare. Things like a respect for elders and those in authority, a belief that life is a cycle of suffering and rebirth, and a focus on the community over the individual all impact the way Vietnamese patients interact with healthcare in the U.S.
For example, medical treatment can be delayed because pain and illness are simply considered part of life. Decisions about care can be slow in coming as such decisions are frequently made as a family. Folk or herbal remedies might be favored or used in parallel with western approaches. But because western medication is sometimes viewed as too strong for the smaller Vietnamese body, patients may cut their dosage or discontinue it altogether after symptoms disappear.
Healthcare translation is about language, yes. But it is just as important with communities like the Vietnamese that those translations are informed by an understanding of the culture.