By Kelly Brooks-Staub
According to associate professor Hae-Ra Han, PhD, RN, 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. Inadequate English skills or lack of health insurance can also inhibit the screening process.
In an attempt to improve the screening rates, Han has been awarded a $2.7 million research project grant (R01) from the National Cancer Institute for a four-year study, “Better Breast and Cervical Cancer control for Korean American Women,” which will test the effects of a trained lay health worker intervention program, combined with computerized tailored health messages. A community health researcher, Han’s expertise lies in reducing health disparities by implementing and evaluating community out-reach pro-grams in cancer control and cardiovascular health promotion for ethnic minorities.
“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.”