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Health and Medicine Newsroom

Chinese-American seniors to benefit from UCLA-led partnership health outreach program

Date: 10/08/2008
Contact: Enrique Rivero ()
Phone: (310) 794-2273

UCLA, in collaboration with Chinatown Services Center (CSC) and television station KSCI LA 18, was awarded $225,000 by New Routes to Community Health, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Benton Foundation designed to improve the health of elderly immigrants in the United States through focused media outreach created by - and for --immigrants.

This partnership is one of eight diverse immigrant-led collaborations across the United States splitting $1.8 million over three years to create locally-focused media and outreach campaigns that speak directly to immigrants' health concerns at the community level and to help them navigate America's healthcare system.

Dr. Michael Ong, assistant professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and part of the Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research, and Training (AANCART), leads the UCLA partnership in this collaboration.

Chinese Americans are the largest ethnic group of Asian-Americans nationally and in California, Ong noted. A critical problem facing Chinese American seniors is the conversion of potential health care access into realized health care access.  Most Chinese American seniors have health insurance and a usual source of care, but Chinese American seniors are more likely than Caucasian seniors to report delays or major barriers to receiving health care, as well as dissatisfaction with health care.

"This partnership combines the health care and research expertise at UCLA with the experiences of Chinatown Services Center, one of the largest Chinese American community organizations in Southern California, and the media capabilities of LA 18, the largest Asian language TV station in Los Angeles and nationwide," he said.  "Together, these partners will produce media vignettes designed to help Chinese American seniors overcome cultural, language, and navigational barriers in order to communicate more effectively with their adult children caretakers and health care providers, and to improve their ability to navigate the U.S. health care system." 

The UCLA-led project, "Navigating Health Care in the U.S. for Chinese American Seniors: The Basics," will produce up to 10 media vignettes in video format that will address three key barriers:

  • Lack of understanding about how the U.S. health care system works,
  • Ineffective patient-provider communication due to language barriers, cultural alienation, and an inadequate understanding of health conditions from a Western Medicine perspective, and
  • Insufficient communication between Chinese American seniors and their adult children caretakers due to generational, cultural, and language barriers. 

Immigrant groups, media makers and prominent community institutions in all eight communities, are working together to produce original content in immigrants' first languages, including Amharic, Chinese, Creole, French, Lao, Somali, Spanish, Swahili and Vietnamese. 

The other grants went to other partnerships in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis/St Paul, Oakland, Philadelphia and San Francisco.  Using a wide range of media such as television and radio features, telenovelas, first person narratives, live theater, the Internet and social marketing campaigns, New Routes projects will map the often difficult terrain of immigrant life in the U.S. 

"Immigrants are the new leaders and pathfinders on the route to the American Dream," said Beth Mastin, national program director of New Routes. "Our program recognizes the challenges faced by immigrants, but we also see the opportunities they bring to renew our economy with hard work and strengthen our society with strong family and community values. Using today's communications tools, and building leadership through collaboration with stakeholders, New Routes helps these 21st Century leaders create that American Dream." 

Media content created by the eight projects will be housed at www.newroutes.org and be available for any community to use. The UCLA materials will likely be available late next year. Additionally, the Web site will serve as a resource for multimedia, research and news on the topic of immigrant community health.

New Routes to Community Health is funded through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Vulnerable Populations portfolio.  The Benton Foundation and MasComm Associates provide direction and technical assistance for the program.

General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research is a division within the Department of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. It provides a unique interactive environment for collaborative efforts between health services researchers and clinical experts with experience in evidence-based work. The division's 100-plus clinicians and researchers are engaged in a wide variety of projects that examine issues related to access to care, quality of care, health measurement, physician education, clinical ethics and doctor/patient communication. The division's researchers have close working relationships with economists, statisticians, social scientists and other specialists throughout UCLA and frequently collaborate with their counterparts at the RAND Corp and Charles Drew University

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. www.rwjf.org.

The Benton Foundation works to ensure that media and telecommunications serve the public interest and enhance democracy. It pursues this mission by seeking policy solutions that support the values of access, diversity and equity, and by demonstrating the value of media and telecommunications for improving the quality of life for all.  www.benton.org.