Studies: Health Disparities Vary Among Hispanic Subgroups, Hispanics Are Less Likely To Visit Doctor

The Huffington Post: 10/04/2012

Heritage may be universal within the Hispanic community, but it seems health isn’t.

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 United States: Cuban-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Puerto Rican-Americans.

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. Cuban-American women, on the other hand, were more likely to report conditions such as hypertension and heart disease.

Chronic conditions afflicting specific subgroups, however, proved to be less varied in men. Puerto Rican-American men had high rates in eight of the 15 physical ailments analyzed in the study, including cardiovascular disease and hypertension (18.1%). Cuban-American men shared a similar rate of hypertension (16.5%) compared to that of Mexican-American men (11.2%). Read more