The Unusually Poor Physical Health Status of Cambodian Refugees Two Decades After Resettlement

Published in: Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, v. 13, no. 5, Oct. 2011, p. 876-882

Posted on RAND.org on September 29, 2010

by Eunice C. Wong, Terry L. Schell, Grant N. Marshall, Marc N. Elliott, Susan H. Babey, Katrin Hambarsoomian

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To better document the health status of Cambodian refugees, the physical health functioning, disability, and general health status of Cambodian refugees was compared to that of non-refugee Asian immigrants with similar demographic characteristics. Data were collected between October 2003 and February 2005, from 490 face-to-face interviews conducted with a stratified probability sample of households from the Cambodian community in Long Beach, California. Data on the health status of the general adult population (n = 56,270) was taken from the California Health Interview Survey, a telephone interview of a representative sample California residents. Cambodian refugees reported exceedingly poor health when compared to both the general population to the Asian participants. This disparity was only slightly reduced when Cambodian refugees were compared to the subsample of Asian immigrants who were matched on gender, age, income, and urbanicity. Although Cambodians refugees are older and poorer than the general population, their poor health cannot be fully attributed to these risk factors. Research is needed to guide health policy and practices aimed at eliminating this health disparity.

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