Author ORCID Identifier : Luisa Kcomt : Kevin Gorey

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Ethnicity & Health

First Page



Asian American; Chinese American; colon cancer; ethnic enclave; ethnicity; gender; health care reform; health insurance; marriage; poverty; race; survival

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Objective: Like the barrio advantage theory related to Mexican Americans, a theory about the protective effects of Chinese American enclaves is developing. Such protections were examined among socioeconomically vulnerable people with colon cancer.

Design: A colon cancer cohort established in California between 1995 and 2000, and followed until the enactment of the Affordable Care Act was utilized in this study. Secondary analysis was conducted on the 5-year survival among 127 Chinese Americans and 4524 other Americans (3810 non-Hispanic white and 714 Hispanic people). A third of the original cohort was selected from high poverty neighborhoods. Chinese American enclaves were neighborhoods where typically 25% or more of the residents were Chinese Americans. Effects were tested with Cox regressions and group differences described with age and stage-standardized survival rate ratios (RR).

Results: Though they were less adequately insured, Chinese American women residing in Chinese American enclaves (63%) were more likely to survive than were other Americans (50%, RR = 1.26). The protective effect of being married was also larger for Chinese Americans (RR = 1.31) than for others (RR = 1.17). Chinese American women (61%) were more likely than men (46%) to live in such enclaves and a large enclave survival advantage was observed among Chinese American women only (RR = 1.59).

Conclusions: There is consistent evidence of the relatively protected status of Chinese American women, particularly those who were married and resided in Chinese American enclaves. Mechanisms that explain their apparent advantages are not yet well understood, though relatively large, kin-based social networks seem instrumental. Research on the influence of social networks as well as the possible effects of acculturation is needed. This study also exposed structural inequities related to the institutions of marriage, health care and communities that disadvantage others. Policy makers ought to be aware of them as future reforms of American health care are considered.



Funding Reference Number

Canadian Institutes of Health Research [grant number 67161-2] and Ontario Graduate Scholarship.