PROVIDENCE – The Southeast Asian population in Rhode Island suffers disproportionately from liver and lung cancers, mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder and is at greater risk for developing Hepatitis B than other ethnic groups, according to a health assessment recently released by the Providence-based Center for Southeast Asians.
Chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, are also a concern for this community, according to the report – the first of its kind to look at the health status of the state’s 17,000 Southeast Asian residents.
“A combination of cultural factors, including the violence and trauma-laden refugee experience following the Vietnam War, contribute to a higher risk of chronic illnesses and associated risk factors among [Southeast Asians],” the report states.
Of the Southeast Asian patients seen at the Rhode Island Free Clinic during a six month period earlier this year, more than a third reported symptoms of hypertension and high cholesterol, according to the brief,, entitled “Health Status of Southeast Asians in Rhode Island & Implications of the Affordable Care Act.” Among the report’s recommendations: Provide the SEA community with “culturally and linguistically relevant educational resources” so they can learn about the Affordable Care Act and health risk factors particular to them.
The Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum provided funding for the assessment, the report’s primary author, John Nguyen, said. While it was beneficial and critical to look at what health information is available about the Southeast Asian community, more “ethnic-specific” data needs to be collected, he said.