Korean J Health Promot.  2017 Jun;17(2):71-79. 10.15384/kjhp.2017.17.2.71.

Health Literacy and Its Related Factors in North Korean Refugees

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Seoul Medical Center, Seoul, Korea. moowija@hanmail.net
  • 2Cancer Policy Branch, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Korea.
  • 3Environmental and Health Research Institute, Seoul Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.
  • 4South and North Integrated Welfare Center, Seoul, Korea.
  • 5Graduate School of Global Political Studies, Kyonggi University, Seoul, Korea.

Abstract

BACKGROUND
In September 2016, the number of North Korean refugees living in South Korea was 29,688. They have been struggling with health problems due to their poor health status and the differences in medical system and terminology between South and North Korea. We aimed to investigate the level of health literacy and its related factors in North Korean refugees.
METHODS
This study was conducted with 142 patients who visited North Korean refugees' counseling center at Seoul Medical Center and National Central Medical Center and 100 South Korean patients who visited outpatient clinics or Health Promotion Center of Seoul Medical Center. General and health-related characteristics were surveyed through a questionnaire and health literacy was measured by using "˜Korean Adult Health Literacy Scale'.
RESULTS
The average age of North Korean refugees was 48.92±11.49 years old. Almost 95% reported that their monthly income was less than 2 million KRW. The survey showed that North Korean refugees obtain health information mainly through TV, radio, and acquaintances and more than half (54.9%) said their health was bad or very bad. The mean score of North Korean refugees' health literacy was much lower than that of South Koreans (12.42±7.58 vs. 25.3±5.7, P<0.001). This discrepancy was maintained after adjusting related factors such as age, sex, and socioeconomic status with stratified analysis.
CONCLUSIONS
It suggest the urgent need for policies which support for futher researches and development of education system, which may lead to the improvememt of the health literacy of North Korean regugees.

Keyword

Health literacy; Democratic People's Republic of Korea; Refugees

MeSH Terms

Adult
Ambulatory Care Facilities
Counseling
Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Education
Friends
Health Literacy*
Health Promotion
Health Status
Humans
Korea
Literacy
Refugees*
Seoul
Social Class
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