In Southeastern Pennsylvania, the number of Asians in the region has doubled in the past fifteen years. According to the 1990 US Census, there were approximately 83,000 Asians living in Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) in 1990, representing little over 2% of the population. Based on 2000 US Census projections, there are now approximately 169,500 Asians living in Southeastern Pennsylvania, representing 4.4% of the population.
The Community Health Data Base (CHDB) at PHMC recognized this growing population within the region and decided to include an over-sample of the Asian population in the 2002 and 2004 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Surveys, so as to better understand the health status, health behaviors and barriers to care currently facing the Asian population.
On May 26th, CHDB staff presented findings from the 2004 Household Health Survey Asian over-sample at PHMC’s seminar, Exploring Asian American Health Issues. The following article discusses selected findings from this presentation. For more information on the health of Asian Americans in Southeastern Pennsylvania, a complete copy of this presentation, including detailed tables and graphs, is currently available online at: http://www.chdbdata.org/uploads/datareports/CHDBAsianpres.pdf
Data from the 2000 U.S. Census reveal that Asian adults in Southeastern Pennsylvania have the highest levels of education among all adults in the region, and have a higher per capita income and lower rate of unemployment than adult of other races. However, nearly one out of five Asians in the region are living below poverty.
Health Status of Asian Adults
Asian adults in the region are less likely than adults of other races to report fair or poor health or the presence of a chronic condition.
Access and Barriers to Care Among Asian Adults
Asian adults in the region are more likely than adults of other races to lack health insurance and a regular source of care. As a result, many Asian adults in the region are not receiving necessary medical care, routine exams and recommended screenings for chronic conditions. Without regular care and screenings, Asian adults may be unaware of the presence of certain health conditions.
· Approximately 16,800 Asian adults did not have health insurance in 2004 at the time of the survey (13.1%), and an additional 6,600 Asian adults were uninsured at some point in the past year (5.9%). In total, this represents 19% or 23,400 Asian adults in the region who were uninsured at some point in the past year.
In addition to a lack of health insurance and a regular source of care, Asian adults also face cultural and language barriers that may prevent them from accessing medical care and properly communicating with health care professionals.
· More than eight out of ten Asian adults interviewed in the 2004 Household Health survey indicated that they speak a language other than English at home (82.5%).
Health Behaviors of Asian Adults
Without being closely connected to the healthcare community, Asian adults in the region may not be receiving recommendations from healthcare professionals about healthy behaviors, such as the importance of exercise and proper nutrition, and the health risks associated with unhealthy behaviors such as smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol.
Although Asian adults are significantly less likely than adults of other races to be overweight or obese, many Asian adults in the region do not exercise regularly or follow the recommended nutrition guidelines.
· Greater than half of all Asian adults in the region report that they do not exercise regularly (53.2%).
Compared to adults of other races, overall Asian adults are less likely to practice certain unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and drinking. However, the percentage of Asian men who smoke and drink is significantly higher than that of Asian women.
· In SEPA, 11.1% of Asian adults in the region report that they smoke cigarettes.
Improving the Health of Asian Adults in SEPA
While Asians are often cast as the “model minority,” due to higher levels of education, employment and income and other factors, the data reveal that there are still many Asians in Southeastern Pennsylvania living below poverty. And while Asian adults report fewer chronic conditions compared to adults of other races, many Asian adults in the region do not have health insurance or a regular source of care and face significant language and cultural barriers when accessing care.
With these needs in mind, PHMC and the University of Pennsylvania are hosting an event at the College of Physicians on June 22nd from 2pm-5pm to discuss the necessary steps to improve the health of Asians in the region. For more information on this event or to register, please contact Christiaan Morssink at firstname.lastname@example.org
For questions about the Community Health Data Base at PHMC, please contact Diana Levengood at 215-731-2039 or email@example.com.
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