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Keywords

Communication in medicine; Communication in public health; Cultural competence; Educational attainment; English language – Study and teaching – Foreign speakers; Health communication; Health education; Health literacy; Immigrant health; Immigrants – Health and hygiene; Minorities

Abstract

The ability to obtain, understand and use the information needed to make wise health choices is known as health literacy. Low health literacy among members of populations with poor reading skills, limited mastery of the English language, members of ethnic or cultural minorities, and immigrants is likely a major contributor to health disparities in the US (Agency for Health Care Policy and Research 1997). A series of focus groups with East-Asian, African, Central and South American immigrants was conducted to better understand the perceptions of immigrants seeking health care services in an urban North Carolina county. Participants’ responses are reported in terms of cultural competency, patient education, medication compliance, and communication. Implications for improving the health literacy of immigrant populations are discussed.