Understanding Cultural Issues in the Diabetes Self-Management Behaviors of Korean Immigrants

Eunseok Cha, Kyeongra Yang, Jia Lee, Jiwon Min, Kevin H. Kim, Sandra B. Dunbar, Bonnie Mowinski Jennings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Purpose The purpose of this study was to explore potential factors affecting the self-management behaviors of Korean immigrants with type 2 diabetes mellitus (KIT2Ds). A qualitative descriptive design guided this study. Semistructured interviews lasting 45 to 60 minutes were conducted with 20 KIT2Ds in the participants’ preferred language; in all cases, this was Korean. Each interview was audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed using conventional content analysis. Data analysis was performed in two steps. The data written in Korean were initially analyzed by 3 bilingual researchers. A qualitative researcher then participated in the analysis to refine the findings for presentation to an English-speaking audience while staying true to the data and preserving the nuanced Korean meanings. The mean age of the sample was 64. 5 ± 11.6 years (9 men and 11 women). The mean years of staying in the United States and age at diabetes mellitus diagnosis were 23.6 ± 9.7 years and 52.5 ± 12.3 years, respectively. Three major ideas were identified: (1) issues on treatment regimen related to medications and diet, (2) resources that helped or hindered ability to manage diabetes, and (3) the physician-patient relationship. Important cultural nuances need to be addressed to better prepare KIT2Ds to manage their diabetes more effectively. A culture-specific program should extend beyond a diabetes self-management education delivered in Korean language. Rather, content and education methods need to consider acculturation effects on diabetes management behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)835-844
Number of pages10
JournalThe Diabetes Educator
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)


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