Health Status of Mexican-Origin Persons: Do Proxy Measures of Acculturation Advance our Understanding of Health Disparities?

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Abstract

Objectives

This paper compares select health status indicators between the U.S. and Mexico, and within the Mexican-origin population using proxy measures of acculturation.

Methods

Statistical data were abstracted and a Medline literature review conducted of English-language epidemiologic articles on Mexican-origin groups published during 1976–2005.

Results

U.S.-born Mexican-Americans have higher morbidity and mortality compared to Mexico-born immigrants. Mexico has lower healthcare resources, life expectancy, and circulatory system and cancer mortality rates, but similar infant immunization rates compared to the U.S. Along the U.S.-Mexico border, the population on the U.S. side has better health status than the Mexican side. The longer in the U.S., the more likely Mexican-born immigrants engage in behaviors that are not health promoting.

Conclusions

Researchers should consider SEP, community norms, behavioral risk and protective factors when studying Mexican-origin groups. It is not spendingtime in the U.S. that worsens health outcomes but rather changes in health promoting behaviors.

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