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Factors Associated with Korean Immigrants' Medical Tourism to the Homeland

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Objectives: This study examined factors associated with first-generation Korean immigrants' medical tours to the homeland, which has emerged as a field of study in immigrant medical transnationalism and immigrant healthcare behaviors. Methods: This paper reports survey data from 507 Korean immigrants and indepth interviews with 120 Korean immigrants in the New York-New Jersey area. Results: About one-fourth of survey respondents have visited their home country for medical care since their migration to the US. Of those with relatives in Korea, 29% have experienced at least one medical tour, compared to only 9.2% of those without relatives in Korea. Having frequent contacts with relatives in the home country was positively associated with the number of medical tour visits. Conclusion: Except for social transnational ties, other types of transnational ties with the home country were marginally related to Korean immigrants' medical tourism. Surprisingly, their health insurance status itself, which is assumed to be important, was not statistically associated with medical tourism. Although this study has the limitation of analyzing a convenience sample, it contributes to the literature on immigrant transnationalism and immigrant healthcare behaviors by using a mixed-methods approach to focus on one ethnic group's medical transnationalism.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Graduate Center of City University of New York (CUNY), Department of Sociology, New York, NY, USA., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2017-07-01

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

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