Abstract: Korean Immigrant Women's Health-Related Internet Use: Is Having a Primary Care Physician Important? (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

551P Korean Immigrant Women's Health-Related Internet Use: Is Having a Primary Care Physician Important?

Saturday, January 19, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Hee Yun Lee, PhD, Associate Dean for Research, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Y. Joon Choi, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Young Ji Yoon, MSW, PhD Student, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Saint Paul, MN
Young-Hoon Ham, PhD, Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Minnesota-Duluth, Saint Paul, MN
Background and Purpose: The Internet has increasingly served as a reference for providing health information for the public, including social support resources and opportunities for interacting with healthcare providers. Research studies suggest that securing access to and use of health information can significantly contribute to improving health outcomes in various medical domains. However, some populations still seem to experience difficulties in accessing health information. For racial/ethnic groups, online health information is found to be essential in preventing them from undergoing a digital gap and limited health literacy. Yet, studies on minority populations about their health information access and use via the Internet are limited. This study aims to explore the level of health-related information-seeking behaviors and how sociodemographic characteristics and health accessibilities are associated with seeking health information through the Internet in Korean American immigrants.

Methods: 243 Korean immigrant women, aged between 19 and 85 and located in Georgia, were recruited with a convenience sampling strategy. They self-administered an 11-item scale regarding the health-related Internet use taken from HINTS 4 Cycle 2. Age, marital status, employment status, English proficiency, education level, having a primary physician, and health status were collected as independent variables. Descriptive analyses were first conducted to explore the sociodemographic characteristics of the sample. Bivariate analyses of t-test and ANOVA were performed to examine the relationships between the demographic characteristics and health-related Internet use. Finally, multiple regression analysis was conducted to examine factors significantly associated with health-related Internet use.

Results: Of the sample, 68% were married, 45% were employed, 64% had a primary physician, and 92% had fair or good health. More than half (51%) of the participants utilized the Internet for diet or physical activity, and more than 30% used the Internet to look for health care providers, share health information with others, and purchase medicine. Findings from multiple linear regression models revealed that age ( = -.183, SE=.132, p<.05), employment status (=.138, SE=.311, p<.05), and having a primary physician (=.164, SE=.331, p<.05) were significantly associated with health-related Internet use. This showed that, on average, Korean immigrant women who are younger, employed, and have a primary physician are more likely to use the Internet for their health.

Conclusions and Implications: We demonstrated differences in online health-related information-seeking based on socio-demographic characteristics and health accessibilities. We found that younger individuals who are employed and have a primary physician are more likely to access health information on the Internet. The differences in online health-related information-seeking behaviors may exacerbate disparities in access to healthcare. Research, policy, and programmatic attention are needed to improve access to technology and improve the quality of online health information. Efforts should also seek to ensure access to alternate forms of health information for those who cannot or will not access information online.