Date of Award

7-27-2009

Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Michael Eriksen, Sc.D. - Chair

Second Advisor

Alawode Oladele, M.D., M.P.H.

Third Advisor

Kymberle Sterling, Dr.PH.

Abstract

Introduction: This study was conducted to gain an ethnographic understanding of the Karen persons from Myanmar and their perceptions of tuberculosis (TB) as well as to provide the DeKalb County Board of Health (DCBoH) TB program with practical recommendations for serving this population. Methods: In-depth, open-ended interviews were conducted with 37 Karen-Burmese persons living in the U.S. Local bilingual, bicultural researchers conducted the interviews with respondents recruited from the DCBoH TB clinic and surrounding communities in DeKalb County, Georgia. Both qualitative and quantitative strategies were used to analyze the data. Results: We found that the levels of knowledge pertaining to TB varied greatly. There were few perceptions that were statistically significant among gender and recruitment sources. Also, misconceptions were common in regards to TB transmission and low perceptions of risk. The respondents did request TB education in various formats such as videos and television. Some reported difficulties at the DCBoH included lack of interpreters, limited transportation, and clinic hours. Conclusions: Some of the perceptions of the Karen-Burmese towards TB can be addressed through education. To begin this process it is recommended that the DCBoH TB program provide language-appropriate services that enable both clients and staff members to effectively focus on all concerns regarding TB. Extended clinic hours and transportation would also be helpful for Karen clients. It is important that the staff receives continuous training in cultural competency and an overview of potential misconceptions that this population may embrace.

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