204088 Health behaviors of religiously-involved Latino Immigrants: Counteracting a health paradox?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ephraim Shapiro, PHD, MPA, MBA , School of Medicine, New York University, New York, NY
Introduction: Latino immigrants' initial better health often deteriorates with longer length of stay, labeled a paradox. A leading hypothesis for this is worsening health behaviors related to chronic diseases, such as increased smoking and obesity. Conversely, church attendance has been associated with improved health outcomes and can potentially prevent chronic diseases through improved health behaviors. There is a paucity of national quantitative evidence, however, related to the relationship of church-going and health behaviors among Latino immigrants.

Objectives: This study sought to assess the relationship of religious involvement to health behaviors associated with chronic disease and overall health status.

Methods: Immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador were surveyed as part of the randomized New Immigrant Survey, a public use data set. A multivariate analysis was performed using measures of religious involvement as well as extensive immigrant and other demographic variables. Outcome measures included current level and/or change in smoking, drinking, physical activity and obesity.

Results: Over 1500 immigrants from these three countries participated in the survey, representing a wide range of health, religious, immigrant and demographic measures. An association was found between level of religious involvement and health behaviors, with variations by key subgroups, including immigrant characteristics.

Conclusion: Opportunities exist to leverage widespread church-going by Latino immigrants by creating innovative and effective interventions to reduce burden of chronic disease. Efforts to target the needs of immigrant populations in faith communities and take their varying characteristics into account are important to potentially counteract worsening Latino immigrant health with longer residency.

Learning Objectives:
1) Assess health behavior characteristics related to preventing chronic disease among church-going Latino immigrants. 2) Identify variations among Latino immigrants related to differences in health behaviors. 3) Understand the implications of these findings for developing innovative interventions to prevent chronic disease among Latinos.

Keywords: Latino Health, Chronic Diseases

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I designed and conducted the study, which is related to my dissertation research. I have given prior presentations on the relationship of religion and immigrant health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.