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ERIC Number: ED558679
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 160
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3032-7045-1
The Role of Social Support and Social Networks in Health Information Seeking Behavior among Korean Americans
Kim, Wonsun
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, George Mason University
Access to health information appears to be a crucial piece of the racial and ethnic health disparities puzzle among immigrants. There are a growing number of scholars who are investigating the role of social networks that have shown that the number and even types of social networks among minorities and lower income groups differ (Chatman, 1991; Ball, Warheit, Vandiver, & Holzer, 1980; Glass, Mendes De Leon, Seeman, & Berkman, 1997; Palmore, 1981; Kaugh, 1999). Very few scholars, however, have examined the use of social support in social networks to retrieve health information. In particular, no extant studies examine both availability of social support and social networks and health information seeking behaviors for Korean immigrants (first generation). This dissertation examined the influences of social support networks on health information seeking behaviors to increase understanding about the important influences of social networks on health information seeking by immigrants, especially the use of the Internet for health information. More specifically, this study will investigate the effects of (a) demographic factors including age, gender, acculturation, (b) perceived social support, and (c) social networks on online health information seeking behaviors among Korean immigrants. Health information seeking behaviors are examined in these four areas: (1) different health information sources from social networks, (2) topics of health information from social networks, (3) online health information seeking behaviors. An intramethod approach (Johnson & Turner, 2003) utilizing both qualitative and quantitative approaches was used to provide both specificity of response (with closed-ended questions) and depth of response (with open-ended questions). An online survey was administered to 205 Korean American men and women aged 18-49 who identified themselves as first generation Korean American immigrants (e.g., foreign-born Korean immigrants refer to those individuals who have emigrated from Korea to the United States). The open-ended questions explored the importance of social support and social networks in health information seeking behavior for Korean Americans. The survey data expanded knowledge about the relationships between social support, social networks, and health information seeking behaviors, in particular online health information seeking. The results from the qualitative data were collected to add to existing literature in health communication by demonstrating why social support and social networks are important for immigrants. These findings also intended to extend current research on health information seeking behaviors and social support to the Korean immigrant population in the U.S. The results from the survey capture how the availability of social support and the size of social networks can influence health information seeking behaviors. The findings from this current study enhance the utility of SNT as a theory, as well as our understanding of health communication for immigrants. SNT was applied here for the first time in a health communication study of Korean immigrants' health information seeking behaviors. The results demonstrated how social networks function as sources of heath information for Korean Americans within the SNT framework. Hence, the utility of this theory was expanded to include health disparities and immigrant contexts. In addition, for health care practitioners and public policy makers, this study provides empirical evidence about the unique use of online health information and social network members as health information sources among Korean Americans. As this study's results suggest, in-group online communities can be effective channels for disseminating important health information targeting Korean Americans. The results of this study present useful suggestions for health care providers in offering culturally and linguistically appropriate care to Korean immigrants. Health care providers need to recognize Korean immigrants' expectations of health care services, their unmet needs, and the reasons for their common complaints. Providers should also increase awareness about the US health care system among Korean immigrants and educate them properly to ultimately enhance their health care system literacy. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A