Health Vulnerability of Immigrants with Limited English Proficiency: A Study of Older Korean Americans

Yuri Jang, Hyunwoo Yoon, Nan Sook Park, David A. Chiriboga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Objectives: To examine the extent to which limited English proficiency (LEP) poses a risk to physical and mental health, using older Korean Americans as a target population. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Participants: Older Korean Americans (N = 1,301). Measurements: Health outcomes were indexed using binary variables covering activity limitation, self-rated health, and probable depression. Participants who reported that they spoke English less than very well were categorized as manifesting LEP. Results: Approximately 71% of the sample had LEP. Those with LEP scored lower on all measures of health than their English-proficient counterparts. In multivariate models, the risk of having activity limitations was 2.72 times as great (95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.72–4.29, P <.001), a fair or poor rating of health 2.59 times as great (95% CI = 1.91–3.49, P <.001), and probable depression 1.73 times as great (95% CI = 1.29–2.31, P <.001) in participants with LEP. Conclusion: Limited English proficiency was identified as a critical source of health vulnerability. Systematic efforts should be made to reach out to older immigrants with LEP and include them in health-related research and prevention and intervention programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1498-1502
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, The American Geriatrics Society


  • health
  • limited English proficiency
  • older ethnic immigrants


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