Study Examines How Hurricane Katrina Affected Health of Vietnamese Living in New Orleans
A recent study by a team of researchers at Tulane University examined health care access for Vietnamese people who lived in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. The study -- by lead author Mark VanLandingham, a professor at the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine -- was sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health at NIH.
The hurricane flooded "a major Vietnamese enclave in eastern New Orleans, resulting in the evacuation and dislocation of the residents," the Times-Picayune reports. "The Vietnamese-Americans make up 22% of all the foreign-born people and two-thirds of all Asian-Americans in New Orleans," VanLandingham said.
"Statistically, significant declines [in health] were found for role limitations due to physical health problems," VanLandingham said. He added, "Those in the age group 40 to 49, who likely bear most of the burden of worry and care for these families, suffered a greater decline (in health) than did younger adults age 20 to 39 on several of our key outcomes. And those who were unemployed pre-Katrina also appear to have fared worse than those [who] were employed."
Vietnamese-Americans' access to health information and services might be limited by language and cultural barriers, which include differences in beliefs and views of mental health, according to VanLandingham.
VanLandingham also noted that about half of the South Asian immigrant population has employer-based health insurance, compared with nearly three-fourths of whites. Twenty-seven percent of Southeast Asian-Americans do not have health insurance, compared with 13% of whites and 23% of blacks, according to VanLandingham (Soong, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 1/10).