Cancer screening behaviors among Asian Americans in Houston, Texas

Amy F Carvalho, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background: Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the United States, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders are the only racial/ethnic group for which cancer is the leading cause of death. Regular cancer screenings help to identify precancerous lesions and cancer at an earlier stage, when the cancer is more treatable. Ethnic disparities in participation in cancer screenings are also striking, and evidence indicates that Asian Americans may have lower rates of cancer screening participation than other racial/ethnic groups. The Health of Houston Survey 2010 (HHS 2010) is an address-based survey, administered via telephone, website, and mail, of over 5,000 respondents in Houston and Harris County that provides recent data on the health status and needs of the Houston community. HHS 2010 researchers oversampled for Asians and Vietnamese Americans in order to obtain a sample size large enough to obtain statistical power. This dataset provides a unique opportunity to examine the cancer screening behaviors and predictors of Vietnamese and Chinese Americans living in Houston, Texas. Methods: This study was a secondary data analysis of HHS 2010 data. The data were analyzed to compare the breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening compliance rates of Vietnamese and Chinese Americans with other racial/ethnic groups in Houston, Texas. Key predictors of participation and barriers to cancer screening were identified. Results: The results of this study indicate that in Houston, Vietnamese Americans and Asian Americans as a whole have strikingly lower rates of participation in cancer screenings compared to other ethnic groups. Chinese Americans had the highest rate of noncompliance for mammography of all ethnic groups; Asian Americans and Vietnamese Americans also had high rates of noncompliance. Similarly, Vietnamese and Asian Americans had high rates of noncompliance with colorectal cancer screening recommendations. Importantly, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Asian Americans had by far the worst pap test participation, with noncompliance rates more than double that of all other racial/ethnic groups. In general, the findings indicated several key predictors in cancer screening behaviors, including English language proficiency, years lived in the United States, health insurance, college education, and income; however, the significance and patterns of these variables varied by ethnic group as well as cancer site. Conclusions: This secondary analysis highlights the disparities in cancer screening participation among Vietnamese, Chinese, and Asian Americans in Houston, Texas and indicate the need to identify Asian Americans as a high-risk group in need of health promotion attention. Barriers to screening and educational needs appear to be specific to each target ethnic group. Thus, health educators and health professionals in Houston must focus on the specific educational needs of the key ethnic groups that make up the Houston population. Further, more ethnic-specific research is needed to examine the health behaviors and needs of Houston's Asian American subgroups.

Subject Area

Asian American Studies|Public health|Oncology

Recommended Citation

Carvalho, Amy F, "Cancer screening behaviors among Asian Americans in Houston, Texas" (2013). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1541005.