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Associate Professor Hae-Ra Han Awarded $2.7 Million to Improve Cancer Screenings


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Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON) associate professor Hae-Ra Han, PhD, RN has been awarded a $2.7 million research project grant (R01) from the National Cancer Institute to explore tactics to improve cancer screening behaviors among Korean American women.

According to Han, not only are breast cancer rates rapidly increasing among Korean American women, but this same population is suffering from the second highest incidence of cervical cancer among all U.S. women.  Early screening of cancer is often a low priority for these women, whose lives can include 16-hour work days without weekend or holiday breaks.  Inadequate English skills or lack of health insurance can also inhibit the screening process.   In an attempt to improve the screening rates, Han’s four-year study, “Better Breast and Cervical Cancer control for Korean American Women,” will test the effects of a trained lay health worker intervention program, combined with computerized tailored health messages.

“I want to develop a system of empowerment and support for these women that can last beyond the study period,” says Han.  “By teaching them what to expect in navigating the health care system in the context of cancer screening, together with training lay Korean women who can provide navigation assistance, I hope this can serve as a first step toward better, healthier immigrant life for these women.  And in the future, parental health behaviors will influence those of their children.”

A community health researcher, Han’s expertise lies in reducing health disparities by implementing and evaluating community outreach programs in cancer control and cardiovascular health promotion for ethnic minorities.  She has served as a principal investigator of federally-funded research focused on cancer control among Korean women and as a co-investigator and consultant on other investigations concerning smoking cessation, diabetes, and health literacy among minorities.  In addition to her cancer screening research, she currently is piloting community nurse and health worker training to improve health services and quality of life for Korean Americans with chronic hypertension and diabetes.