Introduction Measuring appropriate socioeconomic positions (SEP) to capture health inequality among older women has always been a challenging issue. This study sought to explore mixed methods, applicable for measuring the health disparity of Korean women.
Methods We followed a sequential explanatory design, in which two data collection methods - qualitative and quantitative were employed to understand and identify appropriate ways to measure SEPs of older Korean women. In the multi-methods analysis stage, we used a concurrent triangulation design strategy and illustrated the major findings, according to ‘corroboration’, ‘elaboration', and ‘initiation' steps.
Results Most elder women reported their health to be relatively poorer in both quan/qual data, regardless of physician's report or diagnosis. Stress related mental problems were also found to be a major precursor to poorer physical health in these women. According to the findings, low education, financial problems, physically demanding work experience, and lack of social support resulted in poorer health. This was further supplemented by insightful explanations through in-depth interview. We further found cultural specific reasons behind this phenomenon particularly in regards to the education of and occupations of Korean women. They were often found to have been deprived of educational opportunities regardless of familial affluence. The educational levels of their male siblings, rather than their own, may better reflect the familial economic condition in the childhood of these Korean older women.
Conclusions The mixed methods, using both quantitative and qualitative approaches, could go some way towards explaining the health disparity in Korean older women.