Background Vietnamese are the fastest growing Asian subgroup in the United States; however, little is known about the health status of Vietnamese seniors.
Objective To summarize and compare results from the Vietnamese Elders Health Survey (VEHS) and the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) on the health status of Vietnamese and non-Hispanic white elders.
Methods VEHS was administered to a convenience sample of elders from three senior centers in Orange County, California. Participants were recruited through a health fair conducted at each of the senior centers; 211 Vietnamese elders (age ≥ 55) were surveyed in 2004. CHIS employed a random-digit dial telephone survey and its sample is representative of California's noninstitutionalized population. The data set used for this study comes from the CHIS Public Use File 2001 and 2003, yielding sample sizes of 352 Vietnamese and 24,999 non-Hispanic white elders. Survey items were analyzed regarding demographic characteristics and health status (eg, chronic medical conditions, ADL limitations, and health-related quality of life). Descriptive statistics were generated, and the mean differences of health status among VEHS and CHIS groups were compared.
Results The VEHS sample consisted of more recent immigrants who were less educated, less English proficient, and more likely to speak Vietnamese only at home (p < .05) compared with the CHIS Vietnamese elders. The VEHS sample suffered from the most chronic medical conditions (p < .001) and limitations in ADLs compared with the CHIS Vietnamese and non-Hispanic white elders (p < .001). The VEHS sample rated general health lower than non-Hispanic white elders (p < .001) and scored the lowest on all other aspects of health-related quality of life (p < .001). Furthermore, the VEHS sample scored lowest on overall mental health compared with the CHIS samples (p < .001).
Conclusion In general, Vietnamese elders have poorer physical and mental health status compared with non-Hispanic white elders. Furthermore, the VEHS sample consisted of a less acculturated and more vulnerable Vietnamese elder population compared with the previously reported Vietnamese population in CHIS. These results provide evidence that less acculturated Vietnamese elders are more likely to possess poorer health status compared with more acculturated Vietnamese elders.
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