Understanding ethnic differences in health status (HS) could help in designing culturally appropriate interventions. We hypothesized that racial and ethnic differences exist in HS between non-Hispanic whites and Mexican Americans with obstructive lung disease (OLD) and that these differences are mediated by socioeconomic factors.
We analyzed 826 US adults aged ≥ 30 years self-identified as Mexican American or non-Hispanic white with spirometry-confirmed OLD (FEV1/FVC < 0.7) who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007-2010. We assessed associations between Mexican American ethnicity and self-reported HS using logistic regression models adjusted for demographics, smoking status, number of comorbidities, limitations for work, and lung function and tested the contribution of education and health-care access to ethnic differences in HS.
Among Mexican Americans with OLD, worse (fair or poor) HS was more prevalent than among non-Hispanic whites (weighted percentage [SE], 46.6% [5.0] vs 15.2% [1.6]; P < .001). In bivariate analysis, socioeconomic characteristics were associated with lower odds of reporting poor HS (high school graduation: OR, 0.24 [95% CI, 0.10-0.40]; access to health care: OR, 0.50 [95% CI, 0.30-0.80]). In fully adjusted models, a strong association was found between Mexican American ethnicity (vs non-Hispanic white) and fair or poor HS (OR, 7.52; 95% CI, 4.43-12.78; P < .001). Higher education and access to health care contributed to lowering the Mexican American ethnicity odds of fair or poor HS by 47% and 16%, respectively, and together, they contributed 55% to reducing the differences in HS with non-Hispanic whites.
Mexican Americans with OLD report poorer overall HS than non-Hispanic whites, and education and access to health care are large contributors to the difference.