New Studies Examine Disparities in Latino Population

Mental Health Weekly October 8, 2012

According to two recently published twin studies — one focusing on men and the other on women’s health — there are “significant differences” in the physical and behavioral health of individuals within three major Latino subgroups in the U.S.: Cuban-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Puerto Rican-Americans, according to Latino Voices-Huffington Post reported October 5.

Florida State University (FSU) researchers analyzed data from the National Latino and Asian-American Study and found that both Puerto Rican-American men and women reported the highest rates of smoking and overall substance abuse — including marijuana, cocaine, and prescription drugs — out of the three subgroups. Puerto Ricans also showed the highest rates of major depression at 13.1 percent for women and 9.7 percent for men.

When assessing chronic conditions within the subgroups, Mexican-American women showed the highest rate of diabetes, while Puerto-Rican American women reported the highest percentage of asthma. The study found that almost 45 percent of Cuban-American men said they considered their health to be “Excellent,” followed by 37.5 percent of Puerto Rican-American men and 32 percent of Mexican-American men. A Census Bureau report released this month also found that in 2010 Hispanics were more likely to report “Excellent” health (33.8 percent) compared to Non-Hispanic, Blacks (29.8 percent) and Non-Hispanic, Whites (32.7 percent).

This positive perception of their overall health, and the fact that 15.8 million Hispanics were uninsured in the U.S. in 2011, may explain why the Bureau also reported Hispanics as “the least likely racial and ethnic group to use a medical provider,” according to according to Latino Voices-Huffington Post.

Original publication Mental Health Weekly

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