1Graduate School, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea. 2College of Nursing, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea. firstname.lastname@example.org 3Department of Health Systems and Outcome, The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Baltimore, USA.
PURPOSE: The purpose of the study was to evaluate the physical and psychological health status of North Korean defector children and identify associated factors.
METHODS: The participants in the study were 103 children ranging in age from 7 to 14 years old. Physical health status was evaluated through height and weight measurements as well as clinical laboratory results. Psychological health status was assessed using structured survey interviews. Data were analyzed utilizing Pearson correlation coefficients, t-test, ANOVA, and descriptive statistics.
RESULTS: On arrival in South Korea, 19% of the children did not meet the child growth standards of South Koreans for height and 15% for weight. However, twelve weeks after, these percentages had decreased significantly. It found that 38.5% of children presented mild posttraumatic reaction and 40.4% presented moderate reaction. Scores for externalizing and internalizing behavior problems were 0.38+/-0.30 and 0.59+/-0.36 respectively. Posttraumatic reaction was higher in girls (t=0.41, p=.03), and boys showed higher externalizing problems (t=2.04, p=.04). Externalizing problems were correlated with gender and internalizing problems were associated with posttraumatic reactions and externalizing problems.
CONCLUSION: The findings indicate that North Korean defector children need timely developmental assessments and tailored intervention programs to meet child growth standards need to be developed.