Sarah Hyun, Seulgi Lee, William R. Ventura
Jun 21, 2017
Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health
Hepatitis B (HB) affects 240 million people around the world, and children and young adults make up a large proportion of the infected population. Approximately 1 million people die from HB each year. Despite the seriousness of HB and its complications, many are poorly linked to clinical care. A lack of health literacy may be a critical barrier hindering access to HB care for adults as well as children in these populations. We, therefore, performed a survey to assess the level of knowledge of HB among Korean American parents. The survey was conducted on 521 Korean American adults who attended community-based HB awareness campaigns held at various locations throughout the metropolitan New York area between January 2015 and November 2016. Of these, 296 parents, who had children between ages 1 and 30, were identified. All participants were asked a series of questions regarding various aspects of HB and were evaluated on the basis of their awareness on each subject. A separate questionnaire was also employed to obtain demographic characteristics of the participants. The study revealed a significant deficit of knowledge of HB in most aspects the survey evaluated. Although the majority of the participants knew that HB is a liver disease, and many of them had been screened for HB, they had a poor understanding of vaccination, screening, their own HB status, modes of HBV transmission, and the consequences and treatment of HB. The participants also had a low level of awareness of their own children’s HB status. This study demonstrates a low level of knowledge of HB among Korean American parents electing to attend a hepatitis education program. In addition, many parents are not aware of their children’s screening and immune (or non-immune) status. The lack of health literacy may contribute to poor health access in HB care, not only in adults but also in children. This suggests an urgent need for education on HB in Korean American parents as well as in young children.