Pathway to Health Literacy in Korean American Immigrants: The Mediating Role of English Proficiency

Hee Yun Lee, Jeong Kyun Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This study investigated predictors of and pathways to health literacy among Korean American immigrants residing in New York City (n = 407). Social Cognitive Theory guided the study and the Chew et al. 16-item health literacy screening scale was employed. Structural equation modeling using Mplus 4.21 tested the proposed conceptual model. Findings revealed that education and English proficiency were the most influential predictors of health literacy; education was directly associated with health literacy and indirectly through language proficiency. Predictors of greater English proficiency included higher levels of education, younger age, and unmarried status. The findings suggest that immigrants with minimal English abilities, little education, and no health insurance have particular intervention needs, perhaps best met by a patient-centered approach focusing on individual language needs and cultural health beliefs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-269
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this research was provided to the first author by a grant from the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station (MIN-55-01). The authors extend their gratitude to the Korean American immigrants who participated in this study.


  • Health literacy
  • Korean American immigrants
  • health disparity
  • patient-centered practice
  • underserved immigrants


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