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J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2019 Nov 25. doi: 10.1007/s40615-019-00673-x. [Epub ahead of print]

Explaining Health Outcomes of Asian Immigrants: Does Ethnicity Matter?

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Department of Sociology, Texas Woman's University, CFO 305, P. O. Box 425887, Denton, TX, 76204, USA.
Department of Sociology, Texas Woman's University, Denton, TX, USA.
Department of Social Work and Human Services, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA, USA.
Division of Social Sciences and History, Delta State University, Cleveland, MS, USA.


The present study intended to evaluate whether 4 discrete ethnic groups of Asian immigrants could, for empirical reasons, be assigned a set of unique operating factors explaining health outcomes of members. The set comprised several acculturation, social structure, lifestyle, and health-related factors. Our study asked if these factors uniformly explained health outcomes across the 4 groups. We pooled National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data dating 1999-2015 and developed 2 outcomes: self-rated health and self-reported chronic illness (specifically, diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, prediabetes/diabetes, hypertension, cancer, or stroke). Since data for smaller Asian ethnic groups are not readily available, we confined our analyses to respondents of Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indian, and "other Asian" ethnicity. Descriptive statistics suggested that Asian Indian respondents were least likely to report having 1 of the 5 specified serious illnesses and self-rated their health higher than the other 3 respondent groups. Additionally, while some factors (e.g., body mass index, depression) proved related to the health outcomes across the 4 ethnic groups, we did observe for each group a unique pattern of factors associated with the outcomes. Our results confirmed, furthermore, a moderating role for ethnicity in associations between the outcomes and those operating factors in the set we evaluated. The study results should be of use in tailoring preventive and intervention programs to various ethnic groups of Asian immigrants; clearly, in promoting health, one approach will not fit all.


Asian Indians; Chinese; Filipinos; Other Asians; Presence of self-reported chronic illness; Self-rated health


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