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Asian / Pacific Island Nursing Journal

Corresponding Author

Jin Young Seo

Abstract

Despite the rapid increase in Korean immigrant women in the United States, research on healthcare utilization and health-seeking behavior among Korean immigrant women is limited. The present study was designed to understand the health-seeking behavior and healthcare utilization of premenopausal Korean immigrant women living in suburban communities in the United States. The study was designed and guided by interpretive hermeneutic phenomenology. Twenty participants were recruited from suburban communities in Western New York. Individual, semistructured interviews were conducted and analyzed using a team approach. Korean immigrants experienced difficulties using the US healthcare system and significant differences between the US and Korean healthcare systems. They actively sought health information through local ethnic networks, using the Internet, and they relied on self-management that was based on Korean traditional medicine. They also utilized Korean healthcare services whenever they visited Korea. They resided in-between spaces of two healthcare systems that included both geographic and cultural space. They carefully calculated usefulness, cost-effectiveness, convenience, familiarity, and accessibility to make choices between the two. This study emphasizes the importance of minimizing structural and cultural barriers to healthcare access for new immigrants. Ethnic networks and media could be utilized as an informational reservoir to promote various healthcare resources, disseminate information, and navigate new immigrants through a complex healthcare system.

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