Traditional Thai medicine in Eastern Massachusetts
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The growing Thai community in Eastern Massachusetts has an unofficial ethnic enclave that surrounds the neighborhood of Allston/Brighton. Studies of Thai communities in the United States indicate that Thai-Americans have limited access to quality health care in the United States due to factors that contribute to health disparities such as language barriers and cultural beliefs. As a result, Thai people have different approaches to how they treat illnesses through traditional Thai medicine (TTM), Western medicine (also called biomedicine), or a mixture of both medical systems. This study examines healthways Thai/Thai Americans in Eastern Massachusetts draw on in response to different illnesses. In-depth stories of how this community engages in illness prevention and responses to the experiences of illness illuminated by Thai people’s approaches to different medical systems helps us understand how they present their values when seeking medical care. I argue that responses to various illness episodes experienced by members of the Thai community in Eastern Massachusetts influence perceived health and health-seeking behaviors. Factors that contribute to Thai-American health practices include: religion, sociocultural elements (cultural identity, generational differences, cross-cultural differences, structural violence), and Thai constructs of illness and well-being.
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