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Choice of Medicine and Hierarchy of Resort to Different Health Alternatives among Asian Indian Migrants in a Metropolitan City in the USA


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Medical pluralism is common among Asian Indians and the increasing popularity of complementary and alternative medicines in the USA has now provided Asian Indian immigrants with a wide variety of treatment options to choose from for their ailments. Many a times, these options are used simultaneously with each other. Objective . The objective of the study was to examine the choice of medicine and the hierarchy of resort to the different health alternatives by a selected Asian Indian immigrant population in the USA. Design . In-depth interviews were conducted with 21 informants from a metropolitan city in the USA regarding their choice of alternatives and the order in which they choose the different health alternatives. Thematic analysis was carried out to interpret the data. Results . The different choices for treatment of illness included folk remedies, ayurveda, homeopathy and allopathic medicine. Home remedies and Indian medical alternatives were the first resort in case of minor ailments while allopathic medicine was the first choice for serious and chronic illnesses. Conclusions . The decision to choose from among different alternatives for treatment of illness depends on people's beliefs about the severity of illness and the effectiveness of treatment options while the hierarchy of resort depends on the kind of illness. The hierarchy of resort to treatment followed the counter-acculturative pattern for minor illnesses and acculturative pattern for major or chronic illnesses.
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Keywords: Acculturative Pattern; Asian Indian Migrants; Choice of Medicine; Counter-acculturative Pattern; Hierarchy of Resort

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2006

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