April 2010
Volume 51, Issue 13
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   April 2010
Korean Americans and Diabetes Awareness
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • J. Song
    Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California
  • G. Wu
    Ophthalmology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
  • S. Singh
    Medicine, Christian Medical College, Ludhiana, India
  • B. Ha
    Biological Sciences, University of California, Davis, California
  • L. Hughes
    Health Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz, California
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  J. Song, None; G. Wu, None; S. Singh, None; B. Ha, None; L. Hughes, None.
  • Footnotes
    Support  None.
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science April 2010, Vol.51, 2086. doi:
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      J. Song, G. Wu, S. Singh, B. Ha, L. Hughes; Korean Americans and Diabetes Awareness. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(13):2086.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Diabetes Mellitus(DM) is the leading cause of blindness for Americans aged 20 to 65 years. Approximately 21 million people have diabetes in the US, but 6.3 million are undiagnosed. Asian Americans comprise 4% of the US population (11.9 million), of which 11%(1.2 million) are Korean Americans. Compared to their Caucasian peers, Asian Americans are more likely to acquire DM due to their high adiposity per body mass index. Korean Americans have a distinctive language and culture, different from other Asian subgroups. Public health research shows that Korean Americans are ranked lowest in utilizing health care. Patient health literacy plays a role in health outcome. It is important to know if Korean Americans have specific health literacy needs from the American medical system.


Use of a questionnaire (QN) to assess the knowledge of DM in the Korean American(K) population and Caucasians(C) in Northern California.


Participants were given a QN about diabetes, risk factors, and treatment. The QN was distributed at Korean churches, food markets, and schools. QN was translated into Korean.


288 QN were analyzed: 143 KQN (avg age=40.7yrs±19.9) and 144 CQN (avg age=37.4yrs±18.2). Age matched participants of 128 pairs: Fewer K (65.6%) than C (85.2%) knew that weight loss is beneficial to diabetes (p<0.0003). Of note, fewer K(78.9%) had MD visits in the past 2 years vs C(92.2%)(p<0.002); fewer K(67.2%) vs C(78.9%) visited EyeMD or optometry(OD) in the past 2 years (p<0.04).  


Compared to Caucasians, Korean Americans do not see doctors or eye care practitioners as often, and are less aware that weight loss is is related to diabetes care. In this study, the relative lack of knowledge about diabetes highlights the need of targeted public education initiatives for Korean Americans.

Keywords: diabetes • clinical (human) or epidemiologic studies: health care delivery/economics/manpower • diabetic retinopathy 

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