Preferences for disclosure of information about serious illness among older Korean American immigrants in New York City


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Background: The majority of persons of Western European background want to know their diagnosis and prognosis of serious illness, but minimal information is preferred by some ethnic groups, including Asians. Little is known about disclosure preferences of Korean Americans, the fourth largest East Asian immigrant group in the United States. Objective: The objective was to describe disclosure preferences about serious illness of Korean Americans in New York City and characteristics associated with disclosure preferences. Methods: A cross-sectional study of a volunteer sample of 26 Korean Americans, 65 years and older, was conducted. Interviews were conducted in Korean. Measures included comfort in talking about death and dying, disclosure preferences, disclosure to relatives, self-rated physical and mental health, and sociodemographic characteristics. Results: Most agreed doctors should tell patients (n = 23) and relatives (n = 25) if they have cancer, and should tell patients (n = 22) and relatives if they are likely to die from this disease. Less than half (n = 9) agreed doctors should not discuss death and dying with patients, yet 15 agreed it is best to avoid talking about serious illness and dying before they occur. Participants who agreed a doctor should tell patients their cancer diagnosis were younger and had lived in the United States longer than those who disagreed. Self-rated physical health and mental health were associated with disclosure preferences. Conclusions: Health professionals are advised to determine the disclosure preferences about serious illness of older Korean Americans and avoid stereotypical assumptions that do not apply to many in this population.

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