206897 Testing the double jeopardy hypothesis using health-related quality of life measures

Monday, November 9, 2009

Daisy C. Carreon, MPH , Department of Sociology, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA
Andrew Noymer, PhD , Department of Sociology, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA
The double jeopardy hypothesis posits that minority elderly suffer a double disadvantage to health due to the interactive effects of age and race. Previous examinations of the hypothesis have found little support that the process of aging heightens the health disadvantage for racial minorities compared to whites. This study contributes to the existing research by focusing on five major racial-ethnic groups: African-Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, American Indians and Alaskan Natives, the Hispanic origin population, and non-Hispanic whites. Additionally, we examine race-by-age differences using health-related quality of life measures, which have been largely overlooked in past double jeopardy analyses. The unhealthy days question relies on count data reflecting frequency of poor health experienced during a given month, not considered by standard measures of morbidity and mortality.

Using data from the 2003 and 2005 waves of the California Health Interview Survey, we find that the number of unhealthy days increases more steeply for aging African-Americans and Hispanics compared to whites. African-Americans and Hispanics ages 30 and older have significantly more unhealthy days in comparison to whites. Furthermore, the magnitude of the health difference is much larger in the elderly strata than observed between younger groups. Contrary to previous findings, we find support for the double jeopardy hypothesis using quantifiable indicators for health-related quality of life. Other measures of health used in past studies may have downplayed the race-by-age inequality. Our findings indicate the need to consider health-related quality of life when examining racial-ethnic health disparities among the elderly.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the major findings of a study examining differences in health-related quality of life across five major racial and ethnic populations.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a public health masters degree from UCLA, with a concentration on race-ethnicity and aging. I am currently in a sociology doctoral program at UCI researching issues in gerontological health. For 7 years, I was a senior research associate for the UCLA Department of Health Services.
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.