Oral Health and Dental Care in Older Korean Immigrants in the United States: A Qualitative Study

Author(s): Yuri Jang, Min-Kyoung Rhee, Chung Hyeon Jeong, Eun Young Choi, Juyoung Park, Nan Sook Park

Many segments of the U.S. population experience a disproportionate burden of oral disease and inequities in dental care, and older Asian immigrant populations are among those at high risk. To attend to ethnic variations among older Asian Americans and to better understand contextual factors that shape their experiences of oral health and dental care, we conducted in-depth intervie-ws with 18 older Korean immigrants in Los Angeles. The qualitative inquiries were theoretically guided by the three core categories of the Andersen (1968, 1995) health service model: oral health needs, service barriers, and service outcomes. Using the constant comparison method, we derived eight themes across the three categories: (1) oral health problems, (2) perceived needs, (3) insurance and finance, (4) language barriers, (5) social support, (6) knowledge and beliefs, (7) satisfaction with service, and (8) areas for improvement. The study findings demonstrated that older Korean immigrants have varied experiences associated with oral health and dental care and informed the development of services and programs responsive to the identified needs and barriers.

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