Ursidae: The Undergraduate Research Journal at the University of Northern Colorado


In the past four years, over 1,000 Burmese refugees have settled in Greeley, Colorado, but little is known about their conceptualizations of health or their experiences with local medical institutions. This paper investigates Burmese refugee women’s reproductive health beliefs and interactions with biomedical professionals. Through ethnographic interviews and participant observation, I show that a lack of mutual understanding between the two groups contributes to issues in communication and difficulties in promoting medical care. Medical anthropological research shows that culture has important implications for the experience and outcome of illness, as well as for the utilization of medical services and likelihood of successful treatment and recovery. Burmese women and biomedical professionals carry cultural constructions of health and illness that impact patient-doctor relationships as well as health professionals seeking culturally inclusive treatment. The development of effective systems of reproductive health care must include Burmese women’s understandings of community health resources.