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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2003 Mar;51(3):404-9.

Sociodemographic and health characteristics of older Chinese on admission to a nursing home: a cross-racial/ethnic study.

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Department of Medicine, Saint Vincents Hospital and Medical Center, 170 West 12th Street, NR #1214, New York, NY 10011, USA.



To investigate sociodemographic characteristics (SDCs) and health status of older Chinese newly admitted to a nursing home (NH) and to compare them with the characteristics of residents from other racial/ethnic groups.


Secondary analysis of the admission Minimum Data Set Plus (MDS+).


A New York City municipal NH near Chinatown.


Two hundred fifty-eight (125 Chinese, 57 white, 53 Hispanic, and 23 black) of 292 residents consecutively admitted from November 1992 to May 1997 were selected after excluding those younger than 60 or transferred from another NH.


SDCs, health status parameters (cognitive performance, physical functioning, mood/behavior patterns, and psychosocial well-being), and morbidity information (most-frequent diagnoses/conditions and medication use) documented in or generated from the MDS+.


The majority of these Chinese were first-generation immigrants and spoke primarily Cantonese or Mandarin Chinese. Compared with whites, they were more likely to be married, less likely to have lived alone, more likely to be using Medicaid, less likely to make medical decision alone, and more likely to depend on family members for decision-making. Nearly three-quarters of Chinese had cognitive impairment. There was an underdiagnosis of dementia in the Chinese subjects on admission. Severe dependence in activity of daily living was identified in more than one-third of Chinese. Fewer Chinese were using psychotropic medications on admission than the whites. Similar to other groups, many of the Chinese subjects were incontinent of bowel and bladder and had chewing or swallowing problems, hypertension, anemia, and stroke.


This is the first systematic report of the SDCs and health status of a group of newly admitted older Chinese to an urban NH in the United States using the Minimum Data Set database. These findings suggest that Chinese residents are as frail as other racial/ethnic residents on admission. NHs caring for older Chinese need to be sensitive to the presence of dementia, and require a staff that can speak Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese and is comfortable negotiating with families who are more likely to be the designated decision makers.

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