Hard to Reach…or Hardly Reached?

For Korean Americans, the barriers to health care promotion research programs can be many, report Hae-Ra Han, PhD, RN, and Miyong T. Kim, PhD, RN, FAAN, in the December 2006 Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. But, after analyzing 14 prior studies involving more than 2,400 Korean Americans, the authors arrived at a series of successful strategies for researchers to counter these obstacles, including a better understanding of traditions, values, and lifestyles; cultural competencies and culturally sensitive information materials; using ethnic media and ethnic churches as communications tools; building community partnerships; community asset mapping; and utilizing bilingual nurses.

The authors advise that all who work with this group—even those who are bilingual and bicultural themselves—should employ a “cultural humility” that does not assume inherent cultural knowledge as the norm. Han and Kim conclude, “This socially/linguistically isolated population may not have been ‘hard to reach’ after all. Rather, they may simply have been ‘hardly reached’ by researchers.”

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