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Soc Sci Med. 2003 Jul;57(1):71-90.

Measuring culture: a critical review of acculturation and health in Asian immigrant populations.

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  • 1Committee on the History of Culture and The Pritzker School of Medicine, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


The number of studies examining how acculturation affects the health of Asian immigrants has increased in recent years. The proliferation of studies reflects the growing size and heterogeneity of Asian immigrant populations in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. This paper compares various approaches to acculturation within the health literature on Asian immigrants by reviewing the literature in three-health domains (1) mental health (2) physical health and (3) health services use. The review critically examines the conceptualizations and measures of acculturation in these three domains and presents major findings. We observe that measurement difficulties posed by the experiences of heterogeneous Asian groups compound theoretical and disciplinary disparities between acculturation instruments. The extent to which conceptual and methodological critiques of acculturation studies in Hispanic populations apply to studies of Asian populations is also discussed. The critical review thus provides insights into the diverse ways that the relationship between culture and health is measured in this complicated and growing literature.

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