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Public Health Rep. 1988 Jan-Feb; 103(1): 18–27.
PMCID: PMC1477954
Population characteristics and health care needs of Asian Pacific Americans.
J S Lin-Fu
Bureau of Maternal and Child Health and Resources Development, Health Resources and Services Administration, Rockville, MD 20857.
Asian Pacific Americans are one of the smallest but fastest growing minority groups in the United States. Between 1970 and 1980, this population increased 142 percent, from 1.5 million to 3.7 million. This dramatic growth is due largely to a change in U.S. immigration policies in the mid-1960s and the continuous influx of refugees from Southeast Asia since 1975. Despite such sharp increase, Asian Pacific Americans remain one of the most poorly understood minorities, and their health care needs have received relatively little attention. Health policy makers, planners, and service providers need to have a better understanding of the population characteristics of Asian Pacific Americans in order to address their needs properly. Asian Pacific Americans are largely recent immigrants and refugees. They are extremely heterogeneous and bipolar in socioeconomic status and health indices. Because of their small numbers until the last two decades, many health workers have had little exposure to this minority, their culture, and health problems. Health workers need to be sensitive to the ethnocultural barriers that confront recent arrivals; be aware of the genetic disorders, infectious diseases, and mental health problems common in this population; and realize that anatomical and physiological differences may require attention in certain surgical procedures and medical management. Neglecting the health care needs of Asian Pacific Americans is not simply a violation of the principle of equality for all, but also an imprudent act that increases the mortalities and morbidities and health care costs of the nation.
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