The population chosen for examination in this paper is Asian Americans which includes Americans who are of Asian descent to include individuals from China, Japan, North and South Korea, and other countries that fall within the geographical regions of the Far East, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent (Office of Minority Health [OMH], 2014). According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM) (2015), this population represents “nearly fifty countries and ethnic groups, each with distinct cultures, traditions, and histories,” speaking “over 100 languages and dialects.” This population also has “members found throughout the spectra of poverty to wealth, and illiteracy to advanced education” (NLM, 2015).
In terms of the population’s current health status, NLM (2015) reports that they “suffer from the same health problems as the population at large,” though certain problems occur more frequently. The leading cause of cancer-related death is lung cancer, primarily as a result of cigarette smoking (Liao et al., 2010), while they also have very high rates of liver cancer and are more likely to die as a result of nasopharyngeal cancer (Miller, 2010; NLM, 2015). They also have some of the highest rates of hepatitis B in the country (Miller, 2010; NLM, 2015). NLM (2015) reports that “Vietnamese women’s cervical cancer rate is five times that of Caucasian women.” They are less likely than non-Hispanic whites to have received immunizations (Miller, 2010). Despite this, they have lower rates of infant mortality when compared to non-Hispanic whites (Miller, 2010). This population is also less likely to be under the care of a physician (Miller, 2010).
On the more positive side of the population’s health status, they are less likely to be obese or to develop type II diabetes and hypertension in comparison to other populations (Miller, 2010). This population tends to have lower rates of HIV/AIDS (Miller, 2010). In those individuals who have “less acculturation to the Western lifestyle” there is a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease (Miller, 2010, p. 3). Furthermore, through the efforts of programs like the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) Project, there have been significant decreases in the prevalence of smoking in the population at large (Liao et al., 2010).
Within this group, there are few points of importance with regard to health promotion and how it may look or manifest. First, it is important to understand this population as one that values harmony and balance as paramount beliefs; these are the foundation on which all other virtues are built (Miller, 2010). Culturally speaking, this population also values moderation as well as “[s]elf-discipline, self-control, patience, and modesty” (Miller, 2010, p. 2). However, despite deriving “much of their social support from their families and extended families” they are “more reluctant to ask for help from those who are close to them” (Miller, 2010, p. 2). What these values mean is that Asian Americans are likely to endure pain and feelings of illness much longer than other ethnic groups. They are also less likely to ask for help from family members; this is complicated by the fact that they are also less likely to have a regular doctor to see when a health issue becomes a much more serious problem.
In terms of health disparities, Asian Americans face several. According to the Highlights: 2013 National Healthcare Quality & Disparities Reports, “Asians received worse care than Whites for about one-quarter of quality measures” (Agency for Healthcare and Quality [AHQ], 2013, p. 14). Furthermore, “Asians had worse access to care than Whites for 25% of access measures” (AHQ, 2013, p. 15). Since some Asian Americans live in poverty, they are also represented in those findings related to economic status. AHQ (2013) reports that “Poor people received worse care than high-income people for about 60% of quality measures” (p. 14). They also had “worse access to care than high-income people” (AHQ, 2013, p. 15). AHQ (2015) also reports some disparities which have worsened in this population. These include the fact that many adults ages 18-64 never receive pneumococcal vaccination; parents receiving advice about the use of car seats for children weight 0-40lbs are not taking that advice; and live-born infants are still being born with low birth weights (that is, less than 2,500 grams) (AHQ, 2013). As noted earlier, the resistance to vaccinations also put this population at a disproportionate risk of hepatitis B and liver cancer as well as other diseases and disorders commonly prevented by bv vaccination (Miller, 2010).
In terms of health promotion, one of the critical factors that emerges from the literature as being necessary is the couching of any effort in both culturally and linguistically appropriate ways (Liao et al., 2010; Miller, 2010). Successful health promotion and intervention programs reported in the literature frequently make this recommendation (Liao et al., 2010; Miller, 2010). One critical health promotion that should be applied to this population is vaccination. Promoting vaccination can alleviate a variety of common problems and help reduce related health disparities. Promoting vaccination would be considered a primary level of health promotion prevention since the purpose of vaccinations is to prevent illness and disease. Given that the Asian American population has high rates of hepatitis B which can in turn contribute to liver disease and liver cancer, both of which also show high rates of incidence in this population, it seems most sensible and affordable to prevent these problems. Vaccinations are a way of doing that. This is of particular importance for those individuals who are on the poorer end of the socioeconomic spectrum; it is much cheaper to get vaccinated than it is to treat and/or manage liver disease or liver cancer. Additionally, given the reluctance this population feels towards asking for helping, eliminating the need to ask for help through preventive measures like vaccination would appeal to that sensibility.
- Liao, Y., Tsoh, J. Y., Chen, R., Foo, M. A., Garvin, C. C., Grigg-Saito, D., & … Giles, W. H.(2010). Decreases in smoking prevalence in Asian communities served by the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) project. American Journal Of Public Health, 100(5), 853-860. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.176834
- Miller, S. (2010). Health promotion in Asian-Americans. Journal Of Practical Nursing, 60(2), 2-4.
- National Library of Medicine. (2015). Introduction. Asian American Health. Retrieved from https://asianamericanhealth.nlm.nih.gov/intro1.html
- Office of Minority Health. (2014). Profile: Asian Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=3&lvlid=63