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Recognizing Occupational Health Needs of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders

  • Published
  • 16 May 2023
  • Category
  • General

May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month – giving us a chance to recognize the cultural contributions and occupational health needs of employees who identify with one or more of these populations.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the AAPI population’s employment ratio is higher than the national average across all racial-ethnic groups, largely because of favorable working-age demographics. The AAPI population comprises one of the nation’s fastest growing racial/ethnic groups, projected to represent 6.2 percent of the total U.S. population by 2025 and 8.9 percent by 2050.

In the 2000 U.S Census:

  • 6 million people identified as AAPI
  • 1 million identified as Asian in combination with another race
  • 690,000 people identified as Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (NHPI)
  • Nearly 900,000 people identified as NHPI in combination with another race
  • 267,330 people identified as Asian and Hispanic and 67,948 people identified as NHPI and Hispanic

Asian Americans

The Asian American racial group is defined as people with origins in East Asia, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health cites infrequent medical visits, language and cultural barriers, and lack of insurance coverage as health care access challenges for this population. Asian Americans are at risk for cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and accidental injuries, and they have a higher prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, liver disease and smoking when compared to non-Hispanic white people.

Native Hawaiians & Pacific Islanders

NHPI populations comprise a racial group with origins in Hawaii, Guam, Samoa and other Pacific Islands. The Office of Minority Health reports that Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders have higher rates of smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity when compared to other populations. Leading health risks include cancer, heart disease and accidental injuries. Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis are also more prevalent in NHPI populations than they are in the white population.

Experts say that understanding the physical and mental health needs of the AAPI demographic is important because of the vast heterogeneity of the group, cultural beliefs, and the emphasis frequently placed on connections between the mind and body.

What Can Employers Do?

Tweet This: Employers are encouraged to create targeted occupational health, safety and mental health interventions for AAPI adolescents and young adults entering the workforce and programs to meet the needs of all employees who identify with these racial and ethnic groups. Heritage Week is just one of many opportunities to honor racial and ethnic diversity by supporting cross-cultural engagement in the workplace.

Here are some recommended resources:

Contact us to learn about the ways WorkCare’s occupational health clinicians and subject matter experts can help your company protect and promote employee health.