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The Dyspnea Experience in Korean Immigrants with asthma and COPD


This dissertation reports findings from a descriptive, cross-sectional study on the dyspean experience of Korean immigrants who have asthma and/or COPD; the research is reported in three papers. Little is known about the dyspnea experience and symptom experience in immigrant population in the United States, including Koreans. All data were collected through interviews and structured questionnaires which measure mood, symptoms, dyspnea intensity, dyspnea sensations, dyspnea coping strategies, and functioning.

The research reported in the first paper showed that unique descriptors for Korean immigrants with asthma and COPD were blocked chi and they tended to describe dyspnea sensation as rapid. This paper confirmed that dyspnea sensations of Korean immigrants were relatively similar to those of studies of Caucasians. Korean immigrants experience a variety of symptoms other than dyspnea. Multiple symptoms and fatigue were significantly associated with the level of dyspnea, stressing the importance of the assessment of multiple symptoms and continuous effort to manage fatigue in persons with chronic obstructive lung diseases.

The research reported in the second paper showed that Korean immigrants used problem-focused strategies (e.g., breathing techniques) more than emotion-focused strategies (e.g., relaxation technique) and reported that emotional strategies were less effective than problem-focused strategies to relieve dyspnea. However, some emotion-focused strategies were more beneficial to Korean immigrants with asthma than with COPD. Korean immigrants have learned coping strategies by trial; little education was provided. They preferred the use of traditional therapies, such as acupuncture or herbs. In addition, their family played an important role caring for them. Therefore, incorporating traditional Korean therapies in pulmonary rehabilitation education as well as enlisting the family participation may improve efficacy in managing dyspnea for this population.

Third paper reported that Korean immigrants with asthma and COPD experience a broad range of symptoms that may be the result of multiple coexisting conditions. Age, multiple symptoms, mood, dyspnea, and level of education explained 29.9% of variance in functional performance (F6,78 = 5.534, p = .001). Dyspnea was the most significant predictor of functional performance. This study's findings suggest that continuous emphasis on dyspnea management is warranted to improve functioning in this Korean immigrants.

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