Sharing the “American Dream” through Community Health Research

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By Lynn Schultz-Writsel

Miyong Kim

Ethnic and immigrant populations nation-wide all too often find the path to the “American dream” blocked by a major obstacle: personal or family illness. Lack of health literacy, awareness, and access reinforce the obstacle.

Through grants totaling nearly $4 million from the National Institutes of Health and working in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and the Korean Resource Center in Howard County, MD, researcher Miyong Kim, RN, PhD, FAAN, is using two unique community-based participatory research initiatives to remove these health care barriers.

Her $3.5 million National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute study is exploring health literacy interventions for Korean Americans with high blood pressure, particularly the connection between health literacy and high blood pressure control. Kim also is testing approaches such as the use of lay community health workers in delivering health interventions to non-English speakers.

A second study, a $500,000 National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases funded pilot, focuses on improving disease control and quality of life for Korean Americans with type 2 diabetes. Kim and co-investigators are gathering much needed feasibility data on adapting disease self-management procedures.

Kim previously conducted the first and only systematic assessment of cardiovascular risk among Korean Americans and subsequently initiated the first community-based participatory research intervention project ever within the Korean American population. She sees the new grants as validation of both those efforts, and notes, “With community research and intervention, we can help show the way to a healthier version of the American dream.”

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