Examining the Health and Cancer Information Seeking Behaviors of Korean-Americans

Monday, July 11, 2011

Kyeung Mi Oh, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Gary Kreps, PhD
Department of Communication, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to understand the health and cancer information seeking behaviors of Korean Americans.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to understand the cancer information seeking experiences and the awareness of major cancer information sources of Korean Americans.

Purpose: Many Korean-Americans (KAs) have low cancer screening rates. A significant number of KAs lack adequate information about cancer screening tests. However, little is known about the health behaviors of KAs. This study examines (1) exposure to mass media health information, health and cancer information seeking behaviors and source preferences for KAs; (2) factors influencing variations in exposure to health information and their trust in health information sources; and (3) the awareness of cancer information sources by KAs.

Methods:  Data for this study were gathered with a cross-sectional, community-based survey. The survey was conducted in the Washington, DC metropolitan area during 2006 and 2007. It was administered to 254 KA men and women ages 40 years or older.

Results: Korean media sources and internet are important sources used regularly and can also be a major source of communicating health information to this population. Korean newspapers were a common source of health-related information. KAs with less education are more likely to seek health information in Magazines and Newspapers. The most trusted source of health information among respondents in this study was from a doctor or other health care professional. KA’s involvement in cancer information seeking is relatively low and they have somewhat negative experiences in seeking cancer information. Also, their awareness of cancer information sources was limited. Despite of the heavy use of Korean ethnic media, it did not connect to cancer information source awareness.  Rather, use of US mainstream media was significantly related with awareness.

Conclusion: A majority of KAs are first generation immigrants, struggling to overcome language barriers. Obviously, language barriers may hinder KAs from being aware of credible cancer information resources. Campaigns using the Korean language through partnerships with Korean ethnic media to inform KAs about credible sources of health information appear to be warranted by our findings.