Online Program

Differential post-disaster health of Vietnamese and African Americans living in adjacent communities flooded by Katrina

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 3:30 p.m. - 3:50 p.m.

Mark VanLandingham, MPH, PhD, Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
David M. Abramson, PhD MPH, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University, New York, NY
Yoon Soo Park, Ph.D., Department of Medical Education, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Mengxi Zhang, MPH, Department of Global Health Systems and Development, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Background/Significance: Some communities recover more quickly post-disaster than others. Some differentials in recovery are explained by variation in the level of disaster-related community damage and differences in pre-disaster community characteristics, e.g., levels of poverty and crime. But distinct communities that are similar on the above characteristics may experience different recovery trajectories, and, if so, these different trajectories must be due to less-tangible differences among them.

Objective/Purpose: Our principal objective is to measure systematic differences in well-being between Vietnamese and African Americans living in two adjacent communities in New Orleans East that were similarly flooded by Hurricane Katrina; and that had a similar socioeconomic profile before that event.

Methods: We employ data from two ongoing population-based cohort studies that include a sample of African American working age adults (the Gulf Coast Child and Family Health [GCAFH study]) and Vietnamese American working age adults (Katrina Impacts on Vietnamese-Americans [KATIVA NOLA]) living in adjacent neighborhoods in New Orleans East who were assessed near the second anniversary of the disaster.

Results: Analysis of the SF-12 data for members of these two communities living in this same section of the city and assessed at this same time point demonstrates a significant advantage in mental health status for working-age Vietnamese Americans over the comparable sample of African Americans (5.8 point advantage on the SF-12 MCS scale; p = 0.008), an effect that strengthens slightly in a model controlling for age, sex, and socioeconomic status (6.6 point advantage; p = 0.01).

Discussion/Conclusions: This significant disadvantage in post-Katrina mental health status for African Americans compared to Vietnamese Americans in adjacent communities suffering similar levels of damage in models controlling for socioeconomic status suggests a residual effect of factors related to the distinct histories, belief systems, and underlying social fabrics of these two communities.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Explain how the social and geographical context can confound findings about post-disaster health. Explain how cultural attributes might affect post-disaster well-being, using a specific example.

Keyword(s): Disasters, Immigrants

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal of multiple federally funded grants focusing on post-disaster recovery and immigrants.
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.