Health-related coping strategies among Korean immigrant women living in the U.S.
Immigrants are known to experience enormous culture transitions that can affect their health. Depressive symptoms are characteristic of immigrants in general, and women immigrants in particular often suffer from mental health problems along with health-related issues. The qualitative study presented here relates the health-related experiences of Korean women immigrants living in a hosting country, the U.S. in this study, with the purpose of exploring their health-related issues and coping strategies. Qualitative research methods based on grounded theory were employed to explore the health-related coping strategies of Korean immigrant women in the U.S. A nonprobability, purposive, and snowball sampling method was used to recruit participants; and in-depth interviews lasting an average of 45 minutes were conducted with the 28 women who agreed to participate, all of which were recorded and transcribed in Korean and later translated into English. Constant comparative analysis was also utilized, which began as the early interviews were completed and continued through data collection. Content analysis was conducted on the transcripts to develop themes in the participants' responses to the interview questions. Data analysis was systematically processed through open, axial, and selective coding. All of the participants were Korean females who lived in West Lafayette, Indiana; and their median length of stay in the U.S. and Indiana were 9 and 6.5 years, respectively. A majority of the participants reported experiencing mental stress and depression when they moved to the U.S., which they attributed to adjusting to the different environment. The participants stated that the language and cultural differences, their low acculturation, the western diet and less physical activity, and the health care system and its cost were among the challenges and barriers they faced. Regular checkups, healthy diet and exercise, social connections, and spiritual practices were among the health-related coping strategies mentioned by the participants. They acknowledged that obtaining health care services in the U.S. was difficult for them due to the language and cultural barriers, the health care system differences, the health insurance process, and the cost and accessibility of medical care. A new theme consequently emerged from the interviews: the need for health information and counseling services for immigrants. The results of this study are expected to help health care providers understand the health issues of immigrant women and contribute to the development of culturally congruent care.
Hyner, Purdue University.
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