This study examines North Korean defectors’ unmet expectations of South Korean medical providers from the perspectives of both North Korean defectors and their medical providers. Seventeen defectors and 12 medical providers were recruited for focus groups and in-depth interviews. Grounded theory was used for data analysis. Data indicates the North Korean defectors were not satisfied with their providers because they (1) preferred human techniques over computerized technology, (2) expected the doctors to be omnipotent, and (3) expected to receive emergency medical service but did not expect to pay for it. Their medical providers felt that it was impossible to satisfy the defectors because they expected to (1) receive medical services based on self-diagnosis and/or nonmedical personal needs, (2) have the doctor listen to their stories, and (3) receive medical services without booking an appointment. The findings of this study suggest that more efforts for mutual understanding and effective communication are urgently needed for both providers and defectors.


Refugee Health, Patient Satisfaction, Patient Expectation, North Korean Defectors, Doctor-Patient Communication, Grounded Theory

Author Bio(s)

Soo Jung Hong is a postdoctoral fellow in Huntsman Cancer Institute - the University of Utah. She holds an MA in health communication from The University of Oklahoma and a Ph.D. in health communication from the Pennsylvania State University. Her academic interest centers on the development of culturally tailored health messages and socio-cultural influences on individuals’ health beliefs and behaviors. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: soojung.hong@hci.utah.edu.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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