264415 Social networks and health communication among older Vietnamese American immigrants

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 4:30 PM - 4:42 PM

Gem Le, PhD, MHS , Cancer Prevention Institute of California, Fremont, CA
Bang H. Nguyen, DrPH , Research Department, Cancer Prevention Institute of California, Fremont, CA
Alene Pham , Research Department, Cencer Prevention Institute of California, Fremont, CA
My Tong, MPH , Research, Cancer Prevention Institute of California, Berkeley, CA
Susan Stewart, PhD , Division of Biostatistics, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA
Tung T. Nguyen, MD , Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Stephen J. McPhee, MD , Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Background: Social networks are critical to healthy aging because they integrate older adults into systems of norms, trust, access to information and other resources, and social support. This qualitative study described naturally occurring social networks among an older Vietnamese immigrant population in California.

Methods: We conducted in-depth interviews with 17 Vietnamese participants, including 6 lay health workers (LHW), and 6 LHW study participants enrolled in a larger randomized controlled trial promoting colorectal cancer screening and 5 community leaders. Using a grounded theory approach, data were analyzed by 2 independent coders to derive emergent themes around social networks and health communication.

Results: Participants' mean age was 56 years; approximately 50% were male. Our findings revealed a wide and dense range of social networks used for health communication. The extent of participants' integration into a social network was complex and dependent on individual-level factors; for example, participants reported that membership in faith-based communities (most commonly, Buddhist temples and Catholic churches) was a salient entry point in connecting them with other networks, suggesting an important role of faith-based organizations in accessing social networks. Participants relied predominantly on in-person networks (family, friends, and acquaintances) for health information and support. Network communication using computers, internet, and cell phones was sparse.

Conclusions: Older Vietnamese Americans have strong in-person social networks, through which they share health information and access support and resources. These findings suggest ways to leverage social networks and inform interventions aimed at strengthening social ties and optimizing health communication and promotion among older immigrants.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the range of social networks used for health communication among older Vietnamese American immigrants. 2. Identify factors which influence participantsí integration into social networks. 3. Assess strategies for leveraging social networks to optimize health communication among such immigrants.

Keywords: Asian Americans, Health Communications

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a research associate or project leader on several epidemiologic and public health intervention studies focused on understanding and addressing racial/ethnic disparities in cancer control and prevention, particularly in Asian ethnic populations. One of my primary research areas includes the study of social networks in influencing health behaviors and outcomes.
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.