Health Literacy and Impact Factors of the Southeast Asian Immigrant Women in Taiwan

Wednesday, 24 July 2013: 8:30 AM

Shu-Fen Chen, MSN, RN1
Tzu-I Tsai, PhD, RN1
Mei-Hua Wang, MSN, RN2
(1)School of Nursing, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan
(2)School of Nursing, Mackay Medical College, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to recognize the Southeast Asian immigrant women's health literacy.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to assess the health needs of Southeast Asian immigrant women and assist those experiencing health inequality.


Health literacy has been recognized as an important attribute to health outcome and health care utilization. Immigrants are at the high risk of poor health literacy due to language barriers and unfamiliar sociocultural context in the mainstream society. The purpose of this study was to explore the ways Southeast Asian immigrant women gain access to, understand, and use health information and services in healthcare delivery system of Taiwan.


This qualitative study used exploratory focus group and in-depth interview to collect information particularly with respect to the concerns of the health literacy framework. Five focus groups conducted with twenty-one Southeast Asian immigrant women and eighteen in-depth individual interviews with a range of health care providers.


The results indicate clearly that, without basic literate skills, the majority immigrant women had difficulty becoming health literate enough to manage health-relevant information and navigate within the context of Taiwan healthcare system. Childcare and mental health are two most important healthcare information and services immigrant women need. A communication gap between immigrant women and health care providers is often created as the results of language barriers and cultural incompetence.


With limited language skills, immigrants face numerous barriers to navigate health information, interact with healthcare providers, and gain access to healthcare service. Implications for the study findings are discussed.