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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Conducting Health Research in Korean American Churches: Perspectives from Church Leaders

  • Author(s): Jo, Angela M.
  • Maxwell, Annette E.
  • Yang, Bryan
  • Bastani, Roshan
  • et al.

Korean Americans experience many challenges to obtaining adequate health care coverage and access to needed services. Because a large proportion of Korean Americans attend churches on a regular basis, churches may be a promising venue where health programs can be delivered. In order to gain an in-depth understanding of Korean American churches with respect to conducting future health intervention research, we conducted exploratory interviews and focus groups with 58 leaders from 23 Korean American churches and three community organizations. From these interviews and focus groups, we found that Korean churches and church leaders seek to meet a variety of social and health needs of their congregation and their surrounding community. Several leaders have stated that assisting with social and medical needs of their members is an important component of their current ministry. They described profound health needs of their congregations and have suggested various ways in which the university can partner with the local churches to help address these needs through research. Additionally, they described various resources churches can provide to researchers such as: their personal assistance, church volunteer base, church facility, and church network and contacts. Our findings suggest that Korean churches have a high potential to serve an important role in the health of Korean Americans. On the basis of the promising results of the present study, we are planning to conduct a cross sectional survey of Korean church leaders and members in Los Angeles County to substantiate our findings in a larger representative sample.

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