205352 Understanding and responding to the health literacy needs of older immigrants

Monday, November 9, 2009: 3:00 PM

Hitomi Yoshida, MS Ed , Center for Intergenerational Learning, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Older immigrants face many obstacles in their efforts to access healthcare in the U.S. due to their lack of health literacy skills. In order to learn about the nature of their health communication challenges and develop approaches to address their needs, researchers from Project SHINE, a program of the Temple University Center for Intergenerational, conducted a needs assessment with over 100 older immigrants from seven ethnolinguistic groups. The immigrant elders who participated in the focus groups and interviews through this investigation told poignant stories illustrating their struggles related to health literacy and communication. Many could not understand what a doctor said to them during an office visit, had no access to competent bilingual interpreters, and were not able to ask for clarification. Breakdowns in communication were the source of many healthcare-related mishaps reported by the elders

In response to these challenges, Project SHINE worked with immigrant community organizations, ESL instructors and faculty members in health professions in five cities to produce and pilot comprehensive ESL Health Units specifically designed for older immigrants and refugees. Service-learning projects were developed at eight higher education institutions' health profession programs in partnership with their immigrant CBOs and mobilized over 1,000 health professions students from various disciplines including Gerontology, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Medical Interpreting, Nutrition and Pharmacology.

This presentation will share the highlights of the needs assessment and explore the interdisciplinary strategies utilized to respond to the health literacy needs of older immigrant with limited English proficiency.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify challenges older immigrants with limited English proficiency (LEP) experience in accessing health care services in the United States. 2. Describe components of effective health communication (language, cultural, strategic and discourse competence) between older LEP populations and service providers. 3. Explore English as a Second Language (ESL) materials and service models developed to address the health literacy needs of older LEP populations.

Keywords: Immigrants, Literacy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was one of the lead researchers on this research project and was the project manager of the Project SHINE health literacy initiative.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.