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Journal Article

Comparison of disability rates among older adults in aggregated and separate Asian American/Pacific Islander subpopulations

OBJECTIVES: We assessed the prevalence and adjusted odds of 4 types of disability among 7 groups of older Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) subpopulations, both separately and aggregated, compared with non-Hispanic Whites. METHODS: Data were from the nationally representative 2006 American Community Survey, which included institutionalized and community-dwelling Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (n = 524), Vietnamese (n = 2357), Korean (n = 2082), Japanese (n = 3230), Filipino (n = 5109), Asian Indian (n = 2942), Chinese (n = 6034), and non-Hispanic White (n = 641 177) individuals aged 55 years and older. The weighted prevalence, population estimates, and odds ratios of 4 types of disability (functional limitations, limitations in activities of daily living, cognitive problems, and blindness or deafness) were reported for each group. RESULTS: Disability rates in older adults varied more among AAPI subpopulations than between non-Hispanic Whites and the aggregated Asian group. Asian older adults had, on average, better disability outcomes than did non-Hispanic Whites. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides the strongest evidence to date that exclusion of institutionalized older adults minimizes disparities in disabilities between Asians and Whites. The aggregation of Asians into one group obscures substantial subgroup variability and fails to identify the most vulnerable groups (e.g., Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders and Vietnamese).

E. Fuller-Thomson
S. Brennenstuhl
M. Hurd
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