Studies Examine Racial Discrimination’s Effect on Asian-Americans, Hispanics’ Health, Hospital Admissions for Minority Youth
Three newspapers recently published articles on studies involving minority health. Summaries appear below.
- Discrimination: Racial discrimination against Asian-Americans can cause stress and lead to chronic illness, according to a study published in the May issue of American Journal of Public Health, HealthDay/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. For the study, lead researcher Gilbert Gee, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and colleagues surveyed almost 2,100 Asian-American adults -- primarily of Chinese, Filipino or Vietnamese descent -- as part of the 2002-2003 National Latino and Asian American Study. Participants were asked about their experiences with discrimination and their health histories. Researchers found that everyday discrimination was associated with a variety of health conditions, such as chronic cardiovascular, respiratory, and pain-related health issues. Filipinos reported the highest level of discrimination, followed by Chinese-Americans and Vietnamese-Americans. Gee said, "Discrimination is associated with a lot of different health outcomes, from mental health problems like depression to substance use, tobacco use and heart disease," adding, "So what's important is that we keep acknowledging that discrimination does occur and find ways to combat it as well as to continue policies that promote civil rights" (HealthDay/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/31).
An abstract of the study is available online.
- Enclaves: Mexican-Americans who live in ethnic enclaves have better overall health than other Hispanics with similar living situations, according to a study published in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. For the study, researcher Min-Ah Lee of Purdue University and colleagues examined U.S. Census data from 1990 and a 1995 survey of Hispanic groups conducted in Chicago and New York. Puerto Ricans who lived in highly segregated neighborhoods were more likely to have acute physical symptoms compared with Puerto Ricans who did not live in such areas. However, Mexican-Americans who lived in segregated communities had better overall health than the Puerto Ricans, and the health of Mexican-Americans in such neighborhoods appeared to improve with each generation, according to the study. Researchers concluded that living in segregated communities improves the overall health of Mexican-Americans. "Our results show that family and ethnic ties might be resourceful for Mexican-Americans," Lee said (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 6/4).
- Youth: Hispanic and black youth are less likely than whites to be admitted to the hospital after visiting the emergency department for less-severe illnesses, according to a study published in the June issue of Pediatrics, the Boston Globe reports. For the study, lead researcher James Chamberlain of Children's National Medical Center and colleagues from the George Washington University School of Medicine, examined data on 8,952 children at 13 pediatric EDs across the nation. Researchers compared admission rates for different levels of illness severity and found when the children had a less-severe illness -- such as gastroenteritis or pneumonia, which can be treated at home -- white children were 1.6 times more likely to be admitted to the hospital than black or Hispanic children. The children were equally admitted for more severe illnesses, according to the study. Socioeconomic status was not provided for the study, though researchers maintain that the data could have given a better understanding for the cause of the disparity, the Globe reports. In addition, Chamberlain suggested that subtle pressure from parents and hospital staff to admit certain patients when it is not medically necessary is a likely cause for more white children being admitted (Boston Globe, 6/4).
The study is available online.
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.