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Journal Article

Korean American women's perceptions about physical examinations and cancer screening services offered in Korea: the influences of medical tourism on Korean Americans

Cancer is the leading cause of death for Korean-Americans (KAs), while cancer screening rates among KAs have been consistently low. Seven semi-structured focus group interviews with 34 KA women aged 40 or older in the Washington, DC metropolitan area were conducted to explore the perceptions of KA women about seeking physical examinations and cancer screening services in Korea. Data were analyzed using a framework approach. Informants positively perceived the use of health screening services in Korea in comparison to seeking such services in the US. Decision-making factors included cost benefits, high quality services, and more convenient screening procedures in Korea. These benefits outweighed the risks of delaying health care and travelling a vast distance with incurring additional travel costs. Motivations to seek these services in Korea included opportunities to visit their homeland and to enjoy comfortable communication with their native language. The increase of available information about Korean medical services due to the industry's aggressive marketing/PR was identified as a facilitator. Most informants did not recognize possible negative health outcomes of obtaining services in Korea such as inappropriate follow up care if having abnormal findings. Educational programs are needed to educate KAs about the benefits and risks of getting the services in Korea and proper follow up care in the US. Health care providers need to know the different cancer risks and screening needs for this population.

K.M. Oh
J. Jun
Q. Zhou
G. Kreps
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