Social connections, immigration-related factors, and self-rated physical and mental health among Asian Americans

Wei Zhang, Van M Ta
Social Science & Medicine 2009, 68 (12): 2104-12
Focusing on Asian Americans, this study examines how self-rated physical and mental health depends on the layered social connections (including 4 types: family cohesion, relative support, friend support, and neighborhood cohesion), socioeconomic status, and immigration-related factors (including nativity, length of residence in the U.S., and proficiency of the English language). It draws on the 2002-2003 National Latino and Asian American Study, a nationally representative household survey of Latino and Asian Americans. Findings of this study include: (1) there are significant differences in self-rated physical health among Asian Americans of different national origin, but their self-rated physical health differences diminish after indicators of socioeconomic status and immigration-related factors are considered; (2) four types of social connections are all related to the self-rated physical and mental health of Asian Americans, but the patterns of the associations as well as the mechanisms linking the associations vary; and (3) family cohesion has independent and direct effects on both self-rated physical and mental health over and above controls and mediators, whereas the effects of other social connection measures are partially mediated by socioeconomic status and immigration-related factors. In sum, this study indicates the significant effects of social connections, socioeconomic status, and immigration-related factors on the self-rated physical and mental health of Asian Americans.


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