On Monday, June 30, the Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission held a press conference on Connecticut’s first comprehensive needs assessment survey of Asian Pacific American communities. This landmark study will serve as a pilot for future initiatives to reach other Asian Pacific American ethnic groups in Connecticut. Dr. S. Megan Berthold analyzed the data and reported on the findings.
“There is an urgent need to address the high prevalence of diseases affecting Southeast Asian adults in our state,” said Berthold. “There are high rates of physical and mental health conditions reported by Southeast Asians in Connecticut. The majority perceived their health to be fair or poor while many reported seeing health providers regularly.”
“Having a primary care physician is not sufficient to safeguard the health of Southeast Asian adults”, said Dr. Berthold. Her findings also highlight how vital it is that physicians screen for a wide range of physical health conditions as well as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Also, concerted efforts must be made to enhance accurate and effective communication between Southeast Asian community members and their providers. The majority of Southeast Asian adults reported a lack of professional interpreters as required by law. This major communication barrier results in misdiagnosis and miscommunication regarding medication and treatment. This further compromises the health of Southeast Asians in CT and potentially puts their lives at risk.
“Until the economic status of Southeast Asians in CT improves, many will continue to face significant health disparities and be forced to make hard decisions about whether to spend their income on food, heat, or medical care,” said Berthold. “Many will continue to forego medical visits and skip filling or taking prescribed medication.”
This study demonstrates the importance of disaggregating data for Southeast Asians, as different patterns and risk profiles were present for each of the three ethnic groups surveyed – Cambodian, Lao, and Vietnamese. Data on Southeast Asians in Connecticut and the United States are frequently lumped together with “Asians”. By disaggregating the data, it will be possible to obtain a more accurate picture of the individualized needs and the differences between communities.
As Connecticut continues to pursue health innovations aimed at improving the health of all and eliminating health disparities, it is vital that it develop strategies individually tailored to the needs of different community groups. In the absence of appropriate care and attention to the social determinants of health and preventive health measures, it is likely that Asian Pacific American communities will continue to suffer and cost our State considerable healthcare dollars.
Video of Dr. Berthold’s Presentation