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Measuring culture: a critical review of acculturation and health in Asian immigrant populations


  • Salant, Talya
  • Lauderdale, Diane S.


The number of studies examining how acculturation affects the health of Asian immigrants has increased in recent years. The proliferation of studies reflects the growing size and heterogeneity of Asian immigrant populations in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. This paper compares various approaches to acculturation within the health literature on Asian immigrants by reviewing the literature in three-health domains (1) mental health (2) physical health and (3) health services use. The review critically examines the conceptualizations and measures of acculturation in these three domains and presents major findings. We observe that measurement difficulties posed by the experiences of heterogeneous Asian groups compound theoretical and disciplinary disparities between acculturation instruments. The extent to which conceptual and methodological critiques of acculturation studies in Hispanic populations apply to studies of Asian populations is also discussed. The critical review thus provides insights into the diverse ways that the relationship between culture and health is measured in this complicated and growing literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Salant, Talya & Lauderdale, Diane S., 2003. "Measuring culture: a critical review of acculturation and health in Asian immigrant populations," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 71-90, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:57:y:2003:i:1:p:71-90

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    Cited by:

    1. Haritatos, Jana & Mahalingam, Ramaswami & James, Sherman A., 2007. "John Henryism, self-reported physical health indicators, and the mediating role of perceived stress among high socio-economic status Asian immigrants," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(6), pages 1192-1203, March.
    2. Zhang, Wei & Ta, Van M., 2009. "Social connections, immigration-related factors, and self-rated physical and mental health among Asian Americans," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(12), pages 2104-2112, June.
    3. Osypuk, Theresa L. & Diez Roux, Ana V. & Hadley, Craig & Kandula, Namratha R., 2009. "Are immigrant enclaves healthy places to live? The Multi-ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 110-120, July.
    4. Janisch, Laura M., 2017. "Mental health assimilation of Australian immigrants," Ruhr Economic Papers 728, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    5. Jing Li & Robert Hummer, 2015. "The Relationship Between Duration of U.S. Residence, Educational Attainment, and Adult Health Among Asian Immigrants," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 34(1), pages 49-76, February.
    6. Stigler, Melissa & Dhavan, Poonam & Van Dusen, Duncan & Arora, Monika & Reddy, K.S. & Perry, Cheryl L., 2010. "Westernization and tobacco use among young people in Delhi, India," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(5), pages 891-897, September.
    7. Lebrun, Lydie A., 2012. "Effects of length of stay and language proficiency on health care experiences among Immigrants in Canada and the United States," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(7), pages 1062-1072.
    8. Sijmen Reijneveld & Maroesjka Nieuwenhuijzen & Mariska Klein Velderman & Theo Paulussen & Marianne Junger, 2012. "Clustering of health and risk behaviour in immigrant and indigenous Dutch residents aged 19–40 years," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 57(2), pages 351-361, April.
    9. Fox, Molly & Thayer, Zaneta & Wadhwa, Pathik D., 2017. "Assessment of acculturation in minority health research," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 123-132.
    10. Brian Nolan, 2010. "Promoting the Well-Being of Immigrant Youth," Working Papers 201017, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    11. Chen, Juan, 2011. "Internal migration and health: Re-examining the healthy migrant phenomenon in China," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(8), pages 1294-1301, April.
    12. repec:spr:eujhec:v:19:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10198-017-0881-y is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Lopez-Class, Maria & Castro, Felipe González & Ramirez, Amelie G., 2011. "Conceptions of acculturation: A review and statement of critical issues," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(9), pages 1555-1562, May.
    14. McDonald, James Ted & Kennedy, Steven, 2005. "Is migration to Canada associated with unhealthy weight gain? Overweight and obesity among Canada's immigrants," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(12), pages 2469-2481, December.
    15. Chun, Kevin M. & Chesla, Catherine A. & Kwan, Christine M.L., 2011. ""So We Adapt Step by Step": Acculturation experiences affecting diabetes management and perceived health for Chinese American immigrants," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 256-264, January.
    16. Bridget K. Gorman & Cynthia Novoa & Rachel Tolbert Kimbro, 2016. "Migration Decisions, Acculturation, and Overweight among Asian and Latino Immigrant Adults in the United States," International Migration Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 728-757, September.
    17. Vang, Zoua M. & Elo, Irma T., 2013. "Exploring the health consequences of majority–minority neighborhoods: Minority diversity and birthweight among native-born and foreign-born blacks," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 56-65.
    18. Jang, Sou Hyun, 2016. "First-generation Korean immigrants’ barriers to healthcare and their coping strategies in the US," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 93-100.
    19. James Ted McDonald, 2005. "The Health Behaviors of Immigrants and Native-born People in Canada," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 144, McMaster University.
    20. Ro, Annie & Bostean, Georgiana, 2015. "Duration of U.S. stay and body mass index among Latino and Asian immigrants: A test of theoretical pathways," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 39-47.
    21. repec:eee:socmed:v:191:y:2017:i:c:p:194-201 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Asad, Asad L. & Kay, Tamara, 2015. "Toward a multidimensional understanding of culture for health interventions," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 79-87.
    23. Dean, Jennifer Asanin & Wilson, Kathi, 2010. ""My health has improved because I always have everything I need here...": A qualitative exploration of health improvement and decline among immigrants," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(8), pages 1219-1228, April.


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