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Hee Yun Lee

Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of California-Los Angeles
M.S.W., University of California-Los Angeles
M.S.G., University of Southern California
M.A., Seoul National University
B.A., Seoul National University

School of Social Work
Rm 279 Peters Hall

1404 Gortner Ave.
Tel: 612/624-3689

Areas of Interest

Health behavior change intervention using mobile health technology; cancer prevention intervention RCT trials; translational health research; cancer screening disparity in underserved minority populations; social/cultural determinants of health; Cancer survivorship and culturally tailored intervention strategies; health literacy and its link to health disparity; global health; elder mistreatment, family violence, and cultural competence


Dr. Hee Yun Lee is an Associate Professor and Director of Research at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work. She is a behavioral health scientist and her major research areas are health behavior change intervention using mobile health, cancer prevention intervention RCT trials, cancer/health literacy, and family violence among underserved minority populations, with particular attention to immigrants and refugees. Using mobile health (mHealth) technology, and a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach, she is developing and testing intervention programs to promote cancer screening behavior and to increase health and cancer literacy. Her integration of mHealth technology and existing health behavior theories into intervention strategies provides an opportunity to investigate mHealth’s potential to render positive behavior change in typically underserved and difficult-to-reach minority groups.

Dr. Lee is currently conducting multiple research projects. With funding from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, she investigates the effectiveness of a mobile application-based intervention that aims to increase mammogram in an immigrant group with limited English proficiency. Her other RCT trial focuses on developing and testing a mobile application assisted intervention to promote genetic counseling among ovarian cancer patients and survivors. This intervention research is supported by the U.S. Department of Defense. Recently, she completed a text message-based intervention study funded by the National Cancer Institute (R21) that aimed to increase Pap test and HPV vaccination in a minority group. The intervention outcomes revealed mHealth as a promising intervention tool to positively change cancer screening and prevention behavior. Her other line of research is global health. She conducted numerous health research in areas of cancer and health literacy in Korea. The studies investigate how health literacy is linked to health disparity among disadvantaged groups and develop intervention strategies to reduce health disparity in Korea.

Her research efforts to help reduce health disparity in vulnerable groups have received a number of recognitions. She was a recipient of the 2009 College of Education and Human Development Multicultural Recognition Award, was named the 2010-2011 Fesler-Lampert Chair in Aging Studies (Endowed Chair) at the Center on Aging, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and received the 2011 Rising Star Faculty Award from the University of Minnesota Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle. Early in 2012, she was competitively selected as a NIH Clinical Translational Science Institute KL2 Scholar (3-year NIH career development award), and most recently, she received an Investigator-Initiated Research Award by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. She was also a recipient of the 2004 Hartford Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship and 2007 Hartford Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholar Award (Cohort 8). Her work has been widely published in social work, medical, and public health journals, and she has been invited to speak at many national and international conferences and universities.

Selected Publications

  1. Lee, H.Y., Choi, J, & Lee, M. D (In press). Health literacy in an underserved immigrant population: New implications toward achieving health equity. Asian American Journal of Psychology. (IF=1.75)

  2. Zebrack, B., Kaser, K., Lee, H.Y., … (In press). Screening for Psychosocial Distress: A National Survey of Oncology Social Workers, Journal of Psychosocial Oncology. [IF=1.38]

  3. Lee, H.Y., Stange, M.J. M, & Ahluwalia, J.S. (In press). Breast cancer screening behavior among Korean American immigrant women: Findings from Health Belief Model. Journal of Transcultural Nursing. First published online May 21, 2014. 1043659614526457 (IF=0.51)

  4. Lee, H.Y., Rhee, G.E. D, Raveis, V., Koommeiner, J., & Ahluwalia, J. (2014). Mobile Phone Text Messaging Intervention for Cervical Cancer Screening: Changes in Knowledge and Behavior Pre-Post Intervention. Journal of Medical Internet Research, doi:10.2196/jmir.3576, (IF=5.72)

  5. Lee, H.Y., Lee, J.W. D, & Kim, N.G. D (2014). Gender differences in levels of and factors associated with health literacy in Korean adults. American Journal of Men’s Health. First published online August 13, 2014. DOI: 10.1177/1557988314545485 (IF=0.897)

  6. Lee, H.Y., Jin, S.W. D, Tran, M., Bliss, R., & Yeazel, M., (2014). Motivating underserved Vietnamese Americans to obtain colorectal cancer screening: Evaluation of a culturally tailored DVD intervention. Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, 15(4), 1791-1796. (IF=1.50)

  7. Lee, H.Y. & Jin. S.W. D (2013). Older Korean Cancer Survivors’ Depression and Coping: Directions toward Culturally Competent Interventions. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, 31(4), 357-376.  [IF=1.38]

  8. Lee, H.Y., & Vang, S. D (2013). Cultural beliefs and clinical breast examination in Hmong American women: The crucial role of modesty. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, first published online DOI 10.1007/s10903-013-9890-9. (IF=1.264)

  9. Lee, H.Y. & Jung, Y. D (2013). Older Korean American men’s prostate cancer screening behavior: The prime role of culture. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, first published online DOI 10.1007/s10903-013-9804-x. (IF=1.264)

  10. Lee, H.Y., Choi, J., & Park, J.H.M (2013). The primary care physician and cancer literacy: Reducing health disparities in an immigrant population. Health Education Journal, first published online DOI:10.1177/0017896913489290. (IF=0.929)

  11. Lee, H.Y., & Im, H. J. D (2013). Colorectal cancer screening among Korean American immigrants: Unraveling the influence of culture. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 24(2): 579-98. (IF=1.491)

  12. Lee, H.Y., & Choi, J. K. (2012). Pathway to health literacy among Korean American immigrants: The mediating role of English proficiency. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 22(3), 255-269.

  13. Lee, H.Y., Rho, S. H., Vang, S. D, & Jin, S. (2011). The contribution of culture to Korean American women’s cervical cancer screening behavior: The critical role of prevention orientation. Ethnicity and Disease, 2(4), 399-405. (IF=1.119)

  14. Lee, H.Y., Lundquist, M., Ju, E. S., Liu, X., & Townsend, A. (2011). Colorectal cancer screening disparities in Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders: Which groups are the most vulnerable? Ethnicity and Health, 16(6), 501-518. (IF=2.16)

  15. Lee, H.Y., Lytle, K. D, Yang, P. D, & Lum, T. (2010). Mental health literacy in Southeast Asian elderly refugees: A barrier to recognizing and seeking help for depression. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 71(4), 323-344. (IF=1.14)

  16. Lee, H.Y., Gibson, P., & Chaisson, R. (2010). Elderly Korean immigrants' socially and culturally constructed definitions of elder neglect. Journal of Aging Studies, 25, 126-134. (IF=1.42)

  17. Lee, H.Y., Ju, E. S. D, Vang, P. D. D, & Lundquist, M. (2010). Breast and cervical cancer screening disparity among subgroups of Asian American women: Does race/ethnicity matter? Journal of Women’s Health, 19(10), 1877-1884. (IF=1.92)

  18. Lee, H.Y., & Vang, S. D (2010). Barriers to cancer screening in Hmong Americans: The Influence of health care accessibility, culture, and cancer literacy. Journal of Community Health, 35(3), 302-314. (IF=1.59)

  19. Lee, H.Y., Park, E. J. D, & Lightfoot, E. (2010). When does a battered woman seek help from the police? The role of battered woman’s functionality. Journal of Family Violence, 25(2), 195-204. (IF=1.56)

  20. Lee, S., Lee, H.Y., & Diwan, S. (2010). What do Korean American immigrants know about Alzheimer’s disease (AD)? The impact of acculturation and exposure to the disease on AD knowledge. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 25, 66-73. (IF=3.086)