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August 2019

Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 1995 Jun; 29(2): 257-65.

Illness aetiology constructs, health status and use of health services among Cambodians in New Zealand.

Cheung P, Spears G.

University of Melbourne, Larundel Hospital, NEMPS, Bundoora, Victoria.

OBJECTIVE: The objectives of this study were to determine, among all adult Cambodians living in Dunedin: prevalence of illness aetiology beliefs; psychiatric and physical health status; pattern of use of health services; relationships between use of health services and demographic factors, illness aetiology constructs and health status; and problems encountered and improvements desired in the local health services. METHOD: 223 (i.e. 93.3% of all) adult Cambodians living in Dunedin were assessed, using a structured interview, in relation to their sociodemographic status, illness aetiology beliefs, physical health status and use of health services. The 28-item version of the General Health Questionnaire was used to assess psychiatric status. RESULTS: Subjects held multiple indigenous and Western illness aetiology constructs. Psychiatric morbidity using the 28item of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ28) cutoff of 3/4 was 15.7%; despite this only six subjects had ever used specialist psychiatric services. Malaria, intestinal parasitic infestations and heart conditions were the three most frequently reported physical problems. Most subjects had used traditional services in Cambodia but very few had used them in New Zealand. Health service was related to duration of stay in New Zealand. Socio-economic status, both physical and psychiatric health status and some illness aetiology constructs. One hundred and forty-two (63.7%) subjects reported problems with use of health services in Dunedin. CONCLUSION: Despite methodological limitations, some useful preliminary data on factors pertaining to use of and satisfaction with health services among Cambodians were collected. Future research should examine family characteristics and the decision-making processes that determine service use.

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