Objective.

To assess the level of knowledge about hepatitis B of Vietnamese adolescents, a group at high risk for hepatitis B, and compare it to the knowledge of adolescents of other races and ethnicities.

Methods.

A sample of 2816 adolescents was surveyed in 1993 in 2 middle schools and 2 high schools in Worcester, Massachusetts, using a self-administered multilingual questionnaire.

Results.

Knowledge of hepatitis B was low overall. Vietnamese respondents were more likely than were other students to know that hepatitis B affects the liver (35.6% vs 22.6%). However, they were much less likely than were other students to correctly identify sex with an infected person as a risk factor for infection (13.7% vs 32.8%). Independent predictors of this knowledge were: white race; older age; attending high school versus middle school; having been taught about hepatitis B in school; knowing the definition of hepatitis B; reporting better grades; having a family member with hepatitis B; and being more highly acculturated.

Conclusions.

Adolescent knowledge about risk of infection was low in this study. Attention should be directed at providing health education on hepatitis B to adolescents, particularly to Vietnamese. Health care providers, community health educators, and others engaged in the effort to control and eradicate hepatitis B should be sensitive to the unique educational and cultural needs of high-risk southeast Asian adolescent populations.

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