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In Sickness and in Health: Health Care Experiences of Korean Immigrant Older Adults


The purpose of this study was to document the health care experiences of Korean immigrant older adults, 65 years of age or older, living in Los Angeles County, who have health care access through Medicare and/or Medi-Cal, access to a large Korean ethnic enclave, and a diverse social support network. Twelve Korean immigrant older adults were recruited through word-of-mouth via community contacts. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with individual seniors, with the help of a bilingual, bicultural interpreter. Translated transcripts of the interviews were coded, and domains were identified via a "grounded theory" approach. The themes that emerged were: 1) ambivalence toward Korean primary care doctors, 2) limited health care choices, 3) dependence on a diverse social support network, 4) personal responsibility for one's health, and 5) the idea of enduring difficulties in life and expected health challenges "old age." Implications of the findings are discussed for service and policy, with attention to the importance of language and culture for this population.

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