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Am J Prev Med. 1998 Apr;14(3):224-8.

Strategies for reaching Asian Americans with health information.

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Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, USA.



Cultural, linguistic, and economic barriers place many Asian Americans in jeopardy of missing opportunities for disease prevention, early diagnosis, prompt treatment, and participation in clinical trials. One way to learn how to address these barriers is through the development of a demonstration health education and prevention program focused on an indicator disease such as cancer.


In 1994, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Cancer Center began a highly focused cancer education program. Staffing was done with a variety of bicultural and bilingual undergraduates recruited from local colleges and trained to work as community health educators. Asian grocery stores were selected as optimal educational sites. Adaptation of sheltered English teaching techniques and hands-on teaching aids helped to overcome language and educational barriers. The educational intervention was evaluated using unobtrusive measures.


With the volunteers' help, culturally sensitive means to disseminate information on cancer were evaluated. A variety of approaches evolved that effectively bridged many communication barriers. Fear of cancer itself, belief that thinking about cancer could provoke the onset of the disease, and financial barriers to care proved to be just as formidable barriers to cancer education in this ethnic group as they are in others. Using student volunteers and donated store space, this educational program was conducted with minimal expense.


Reaching this population with the help of ethnically and linguistically compatible students was effective, but the barriers they faced when trying to connect with their potential audience were still considerable. Rigorous evaluation of the strategies used in this intervention is warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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