An Innovative Model of Culturally Tailored Health Promotion Groups for Cambodian Survivors of Torture

Cambodians living in the U.S.A. suffer from depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic medical disease at rates far in excess of national averages. The Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma’s Cambodian Health Promotion Program seeks to address this burden of disease by offering them culturally tailored health education in a group setting.
 
A health professional and a bicultural health educator co-facilitated a five-session health promotion group for Cambodian survivors of torture from 2007 to 2011. The program covered five major topics from Western and Cambodian worldviews. They 
included the meaning of health promotion, nutrition, exercise,stress management and sleep hygiene, and health practitioner-patient communication. The bicultural worker administered Pre and Post semi-structured Health Promotion Questionnaires. The data presented here are the results from 126 participants. 
 
Changes between the Pre and Post health promotion groups demonstrated significant improvements in health status, lifestyle activities, sleep, and depression. Participants revealed greater confidence in communicating with their primary health care practitioner.
 
Culturally tailored Cambodian health promotion education administered in a small group setting may improve health and mental health behaviors.
 
Culturally tailored health promotion education in a small group setting may promote healing in survivors of torture. It is an intervention worthy of further research and development.

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