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Different tuberculosis in men and women: beliefs from focus groups in Vietnam


  • Long, Nguyen Hoang
  • Johansson, Eva
  • Diwan, Vinod K.
  • Winkvist, Anna


After decades in decline, tuberculosis (TB) has been increasing worldwide. In 1993, the World Health Organisation declared TB a global emergency. Passive case-finding is an important part of TB control programmes, and this is strongly affected by people's perceptions and beliefs of TB and society's behaviour towards TB sufferers. The aim of this study was to describe the perceptions and beliefs of Vietnamese people regarding TB and its risk factors with special reference to differences between men and women. Sixteen focus group discussions (FGDs) were organised in four districts representing different regions in Vietnam and consisting of men and women, TB patients and non-TB participants. In general, participants had good knowledge of TB being a dangerous, contagious and infectious disease, caused by germs. However, traditional beliefs in different types of TB still exist, mainly among older people in rural areas, but also resorted to by other people once ill. Four main types of TB were reported: (1) 'Lao truyen' (hereditary TB), handed down from older generations to latter ones through 'family blood', regardless of sexes; (2) 'Lao luc' (physical TB), caused by hard work, more men affected; (3) 'Lao tam' (mental TB), caused by too much worrying--more women affected; and (4) 'Lao phoi' (lung TB), dangerous and caused by TB germs, transmitted through the respiratory system--more men affected. Other general risk factors were also mentioned. Men were perceived to get TB more often than women, as they were more exposed to risk factors during both work and leisure time. These traditional beliefs may contribute to long delays to TB diagnosis and increased social stigma and isolation of TB patients and their families due to erroneous beliefs in transmission routes. Our findings demonstrate areas where TB control programmes may be improved.

Suggested Citation

  • Long, Nguyen Hoang & Johansson, Eva & Diwan, Vinod K. & Winkvist, Anna, 1999. "Different tuberculosis in men and women: beliefs from focus groups in Vietnam," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 815-822, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:49:y:1999:i:6:p:815-822

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    Cited by:

    1. Hoa, Nguyen Phuong & Chuc, Nguyen Thi Kim & Thorson, Anna, 2009. "Knowledge, attitudes, and practices about tuberculosis and choice of communication channels in a rural community in Vietnam," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 8-12, April.
    2. Long, Nguyen Hoang & Johansson, Eva & Diwan, Vinod K. & Winkvist, Anna, 2001. "Fear and social isolation as consequences of tuberculosis in VietNam: a gender analysis," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 69-81, October.
    3. Johansson, E. & Long, N. H. & Diwan, V. K. & Winkvist, A., 2000. "Gender and tuberculosis control: Perspectives on health seeking behaviour among men and women in Vietnam," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 33-51, May.


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