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Project Details

Ethnic Health Assessment Project

Photo of Ethnic Health Assessment Report Cover
Project Summary: 

The Ethnic Health Assessment Project seeks to frame the health needs of California’s four largest minority groups, and make recommendations for meeting those needs.

When we speak of health, we are referring to a broad spectrum of factors. In addition to speaking about diet, physical activity, and access to health care, we are also speaking about education, income, jobs, and neighborhood safety: everyday components in life that contribute to our health and well being. We adopt the view that positive physical and social environments are essential in creating positive overall health.

This broad view of health is incorporated in each of four ethnic health reports. Our recommendations adopt a broad view for meeting the health needs of our target populations: Latinos, Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders, African Americans, American Indians & Alaskan Natives. We suggest concrete and bold actions to improve the “everyday environments” among the target groups, and thus improve the health of the populations. We also suggest specific policy actions that the state’s decision makers can use to improve the health of the four population groups.

Main Findings: 

Key Findings Common to All Target Populations

  • Obesity and Diabetes: These two interrelated health concerns affect the four ethnic target groups in much greater numbers than Whites. Obesity is a leading predictor of diabetes, a chronic disease where the body cannot produce enough insulin to function. All four ethnic groups show large numbers of adults who have diabetes, and large numbers of children whose heavy body weight puts them at risk for diabetes. Physical and social factors contributing to obesity and diabetes are lack of outdoor exercise due to unsafe neighborhoods, lack of healthy foods due to overrepresentation of neighborhood markets catering to high caloric junk foods, and lack of health outreach programs to guide healthy lifestyle decisions.
  • Mental Health: All four ethnic groups suffer psychological distress at higher rates than Whites. Compared to Whites, African Americans live with untreated depression at higher rates, and twice as many AIAN report psychological distress. One in three Latina teens are at high risk of depression; among Asians, Korean elders reported substantially higher rates of serious psychological distress than the state average. Living in dangerous neighborhoods, financial strains due to low-wage jobs, and daily encounters with discrimination all take a huge toll on the mental wellbeing of these populations.
  • Violence: Violence primarily strikes young males in the Latino, African American, and American Indian communities. Homicide is the sixth leading cause of death for African American men, and the seventh leading cause for Latino men. Violent deaths from unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide, account for 75 percent of all AIAN male mortality in the second decade of life. In the Asian community, high numbers of Japanese women report physical or sexual violence. Economic hardship, oppression, and poor mental health are among the most widespread causes of violence.
  • Access to Care: Getting health care is particularly difficult for all four population groups. Physical and social factors that block health care access include lack of money, lack of health insurance, and often lack of time off work and lack of transportation. Access to care is also stymied by language barriers. If a patient doesn’t speak the same language as the doctor, then the patient might not have symptoms properly diagnosed or treated. Three of the four target populations have large numbers of people who have limited English proficiency, meaning they speak English less than “very well.” For some populations, such as Vietnamese and Korean speakers, over 60 percent are limited-English proficient.
Contact Person: 
Yovana Gomez
Contact Person's Email Address:
CA Program on Access to Care
Principal Investigators: 
Michael A. Rodriguez, MD, UCLA, Al Hernández-Santana, JD, LCHC, Winston Tseng, PhD, UC Berkeley, Wendy Ho, MPA, APIAHF, Lonnie R. Snowden, PhD, UC Berkeley, Calvin Freeman, CBHN, Carol Korenbrot, PhD, CRIHB, James Crouch, MPH, CRIHB, Rebecca Garrow, MPH
Research Publications and Reports: 
The California Endowment
Location - States: 
Location - Countries: 
Publication Date: