The circumstances of immigrants' transit to and entry into the U.S. may have serious implications for their health and the delivery of health care. A particularly unusual case illustrates the need for health care providers in urban areas to be aware of the conditions associated with illegal immigration and the associated health risks. This case involved the Honduran-registered ship Golden Venture, which ran aground off the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, New York carrying 289 Chinese passengers following a failed attempt to rendezvous with smaller ships that would carry the passengers to the shores of the U.S. illegally. Ten of the passengers died from hypothermia or drowning (Metropolitan Desk, 1993), a number disappeared after receiving treatment at local hospitals (McFadden, 1993), and the remainder were taken into custody by the INS. A few of those who were detained were ultimately granted asylum or were released through other legal mechanisms. Two of those individuals who were apprehended were found to be suffering from Reiter's syndrome, characterized by swelling and pain in the foot, ankle, and knee and, in one individual, by diarrhea and eye pain. The cause of the infection was ultimately attributed to improperly stored "thousand-year-old eggs" that were consumed on the ship during the voyage (Solitar, et al., 1998). Other, less dramatic, but more frequent occurrences also merit attention from clinicians and public health practitioners.
Immigrants to the U.S. also may be at increased risk of specific communicable diseases as a result of the higher prevalence of these infections in their originating countries. An examination of data at a Minneapolis clinic from the charts of 102 recently immigrated patients from 12 different African nations, for instance, found that despite a healthy appearance, 8 patients had active tuberculosis, 10 had hepatitis B, 11 were suffering from various parasitic infections (trichuriasis, amebiasis, schistosomiasis, and ascariasis), 1 had malaria, and 2 patients had human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (Adair and Nwaaneri, 1999). Of these patients with communicable diseases, 3 had entered illegally, in the hopes that they would be granted asylum, 1 had entered on a student visa, which does not require medical screening, and several who had active tuberculosis were improperly classified.
Another analysis of the health of immigrants was through examinations of 2,545 refugees arriving in Minnesota in 1999 from countries in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa; this study reported that of the 2,129 (84%) of refugees with results of stool ova and parasite examinations, 8% were found to have trichuriasis; 7%, giardiasis; 3%, schistosomiasis; 3%, hookworm; 2%, amebia-sis; 1%, ascariasis; and 1%, strongyloidiasis (Lifson, et al., 2002). Seven percent of the individuals had a positive hepatitis B surface antigen. Although protocols are in place for screening individuals who intend to immigrate permanently to the U.S., such procedures do not encompass all possible situations and cannot be relied upon. Because of the likelihood that new immigrants to the U.S. will settle in urban areas, it is particularly important that health care providers be trained to not only recognize the signs and symptoms of commonly occurring communicable diseases, but also to conduct appropriate screening tests at the time of individuals' first visit.
Tuberculosis is an especially important concern. In 1997, it was found that 39% of all cases of tuberculosis occurred in foreign-born individuals (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1998). An analysis of all incident TB cases nationwide for the period from 1985 through 1992 revealed that the number of cases among foreign-born persons in the U.S. increased by 48% and accounted for 60% of the total increase in the number of incident U.S. cases (Cantwell, et al., 1994). The median interval from the time of immigration to the reporting of foreign-born cases in 1992 was 3 years; 30% of the cases were reported within one year of immigration.
Numerous cities and counties have felt the impact of increasing numbers of TB cases attributable to the immigrant populations. From 1998 through 2001, the annual number of TB cases among African immigrants and refugees in Seattle and King County increased almost three-fold compared to the period from 1993 to 1997 (Anon., 2002). Almost one-half of the individuals had extrapulmonary TB. Of the 3,364 cases of TB occurring between 1985 and 1994 among Asians in Los Angeles County, California, 98% were immigrants (Makinodan, et al., 1999). The TB case rate per 100,000 foreign-born Asians living in Los Angeles County was 162.1, compared to 2.6 per 100,000 among U.S.-born Asians in the same county. A retrospective study of Tibetan immigrants evaluated in Minneapolis between 1992 and 1994
found that despite initial TB screening by U.S.-authorized physicians in India prior to immigration to the U.S., 51% of the chest radiographs taken in Minneapolis were abnormal (Truong, et al., 1997). A comparison with the results from the chest radiograph evaluations conducted in India indicated that 79% of the Tibetans had unchanged readings and 21% showed evidence of potentially progressive disease. A study of all tuberculosis cases occurring in Broward, Dade, and Palm Beach Counties in Florida during calendar year 1995 found that 49% of the 629 individuals with reported tuberculosis had been born in 40 countries. Of those individuals with a known date of arrival in the U.S., 68% had been in the U.S. for more than five years; overseas immigrant screening for tuberculosis had identified only three cases (Granich, et al, 1998).
A large number of persons entering the U.S., including most nonimmigrants, such as tourists and students, are not subject to screening procedures. A recent study of culture-positive tuberculosis patients in the Fort Worth-Dallas, Texas metro-plex, the ninth largest metropolitan area in the U.S., found that a greater proportion of nonimmigrants had multi-drug resistant TB and were HIV-positive, compared to those with permanent residence and those who were undocumented (Weis, et al., 2001). Although individuals seeking permanent resident status in the U.S. must be screened for tuberculosis and be found noninfectious to others in order to obtain their visas, data indicate that the screening procedures utilized currently are less effective than is desired and the requisite follow-up of immigrants entering the U.S. who are known to be infected with TB is less than adequate. These deficiencies in screening and follow-up procedures are particularly worrisome in view of the likelihood that immigrants may delay seeking care following entry to the U.S. absent troublesome symptoms and the possibility of disease transmission to others, particularly in crowded, urban living and working situations.
The delay in seeking care for tuberculosis may result from a number of factors including a fear of immigration authorities and misconceptions about the disease and its treatment. It has been found, for instance, that legislation that increases the fear of detection by immigration authorities may exacerbate delays in seeking care (Asch, et al., 1994). Misconceptions about the nature of the disease and its treatment may also play a role. In absolute numbers, immigrants from Mexico and the Philippines are the two largest immigrant groups in the U.S. to develop TB (Zuber, et al., 1997). A focus group study conducted with Filipino immigrants at California and Hawaii community health centers to explore beliefs about TB found that the participants viewed TB as being highly contagious and caused by environmental exposures, such as cigarettes and alcohol, unsanitary conditions, wet clothing, and bacteria and viruses, imbalances of the body occasioned by overwork, poor nutrition, respiratory illness, worrying and family problems, and family inheritance, and contagion from an infected person through touch, the sharing of utensils, or airborne spread (Yamada, et al., 1999). It was believed that the disease could be treated through modern medical attention, traditional medicines, improved sanitation and air, smoking cessation, and the correction of imbalances of the body through proper rest, exercise, discipline, diet, and a positive outlook. Participants also noted the highly stigmatizing nature of the disease and the resulting isolation, shame, and loneliness, leading sufferers to delay or avoid medical diagnosis entirely. Focus groups conducted with foreign-born Vietnamese participants in Orange County, California revealed a belief in two forms of TB, the psychological and the physical (Houston, et al., 2002). The conceptualization of physical TB converged with Western biomedical knowledge of TB as a communicable disease.
However, psychological TB, which was said to be characterized by fatigue, lethargy, and a loss of appetite that could lead to an impairment of immune system functioning and the onset of physical TB, was not believed by participants to be transmissible to others.
These findings underscore the need for prompt screening for TB following arrival in the U.S., a consideration of extrapulmonary TB, and the development of outreach programs and informational messages that address the transmission, symptoms, and treatment for TB in a linguistically and culturally appropriate manner. This may be particularly critical in urban areas due to the insular nature of some immigrant communities and the possibility of disease transmission as a result of close contact with others that is associated with urban living, such as the use of crowded public transportation and residence in high-rise apartment buildings with ventilation systems of varying effectiveness.
From the health care provider perspective, heightened sensitivity to detection of infectious diseases in this population, especially the more rare tropical diseases, is needed. It is critical that care providers at urban area emergency centers and inner city hospitals be familiar with the symptoms of other communicable diseases of high prevalence in other countries, and that they be trained to obtain and consider a patient's travel or migration history. A failure to do so can result in misdiagnosis and failure to provide appropriate and timely care. A retrospective case series conducted at a large, inner city medical center in Los Angeles identified 20 cases of falciparum malaria with initial medical evaluation in the emergency department during the period from 1979 through 1993, but found that malaria had been considered as a diagnosis in only 12 of these cases. Nineteen of these 20 individuals were recent immigrants or immigrants returning to the U.S. after visiting relatives abroad (Kyiacou, et al., 1996).
Temporary visitors to the U.S. and, until recently, individuals immigrating permanently to the U.S. have not been required to have many vaccinations that are common in the U.S. As a result, they have been at greater risk of contracting diseases that had become relatively less common in the U.S., such as rubella. Because the vaccination requirements apply primarily to those seeking permanent resident status and were incorporated into immigration laws relatively recently, it cannot be assumed that immigrants will have had immunizations common in the U.S. A retrospective case series of tetanus cases presenting at the emergency department of a large inner-city medical center between the years 1986 and 1997 found that many of them had occurred in recent immigrants who had not received childhood immunizations (Henderson, etal., 1998).
There is substantial evidence to suggest that immigrant children may also have higher rates of childhood diseases for which vaccinations are available in comparison to U.S.-born children. As an example, an investigation of a rubella outbreak in North Carolina found that the majority of the 83 cases occurred among latino immigrants and that the children had not received rubella vaccination in the countries from which they had migrate because of differing vaccination policies (Rangel, et al., 1999). An assessment of vaccination coverage in a survey of 314 children under 2 years of age in New York City found that foreign-born children had vaccination coverage similar to that of U.S.-born children for diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus, oral polio vaccine, and measles-mumps-rubella, but had been underimmunized for Haemophilus influenzae type b and hepatitis B (Findley, et al., 1999) Even children processing for adoption by U.S. parents may lack necessary immunizations or experience incomplete immune responses to vaccines (Schulte, et al., 2002). The lack of adequate immunization may be of particular concern with respect to those immigrant children living in urban areas due to the increased likelihood of their exposure to infectious individuals in these more densely populated environments (Strine, et al, 2002).
Increased attention has been paid to the occurrence of sexually transmitted infections among immigrant populations, due in large part to controversies surrounding the admission to the U.S. of HIV-infected immigrants and criteria excluding immigrants with sexually transmitted disease from entry into this country (Editorial Desk, 1993). Relatively little information is available about the risk for or rates of sexually transmitted infections among urban immigrants. An analysis of health care utilization patterns at one Houston clinic found that Central American immigrants accounted for 4% of the 30,000 annual clinic visits and a large proportion of care was devoted to the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (Eichenberger and Shandera, 1999). A study of 274 TB culture-positive individuals with varying immigration statuses in the Fort Worth-Dallas metropolitan area found a higher prevalence of HIV infection among individuals traveling to the U.S. as nonimmigrants, in comparison with those who were permanent residents and those who were undocumented (Weis, et al., 2001). Although a number of studies have examined the incidence and prevalence of STDs among rural immigrant migrant workers (Bertolli, 1993; Brammeier, et al., 2002; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1992; Ruiz et al., 1997; Organista and Balls Organista, 1997; Organista, et al., 1996; Paz-Bailey, et al., 2004), little research has been conducted with urban immigrant migrant workers. A relatively recent screening for syphilis of 235 male immigrants from Latin America living in San Francisco found that 0.4% had secondary syphilis; among the 198 persons screened for gonorrhea and Chlamydia, it was found that 3.5% had Chlamydia and 0.5% had gonorrhea (Wong, et al., 2003). Data were unavailable to identify contextual or social factors that may have increased the risk of transmission. As with tuberculosis, fear of immigration authorities, stigma associated with the disease itself, and misconceptions about the disease may result in delay in the receipt of diagnosis and care (Kang, et al., 2003).
Behavioral studies including immigrant populations also indicate the need for health care providers to screen patients for risk behaviors in order to determine the need for additional counseling and/or testing and treatment. A survey study of 1,789 students at two high schools in northern California during 1988 and 1989 found that the mean number of risk behaviors was highest among latino immigrant students, as compared with native-born latinos and native non-latino white students (Brindis, et al., 1995). Eight different risk behaviors had been included in the assessment: the use of alcohol, marijuana, cigarette, and other illicit substances; self-violence; drunk driving; unintended pregnancy; and violence. Rates of sexual activity were particularly high among the immigrant students as compared to the others. The authors hypothesized that the level of risk was related to the duration of residence in the U.S., with those residing longer engaging in increasing sexual activity.
A 1990 survey of 3,049 Boston public middle and high school students surveyed in their own languages yielded similar findings. Thirty-five percent of the students had been born outside of the U.S. (Hingson, et al., 1991). Immigrant students were more likely to worry about getting AIDS, but were less likely than U.S.-born students to be familiar with HIV/AIDS prevention strategies or where to obtain information or HIV testing. A similar proportion of the immigrant students reported having had sexual intercourse as compared with the U.S.-born students, but a larger proportion of those foreign-born students having sexual intercourse reported intercourse with injection drug users and without condoms. The authors suggested the need to provide HIV education in students' native languages and reliance on student peer educators to deliver the information. It is important to note, though not emphasized by the study investigators, that these relatively low rates of HIV knowledge and relatively high risk behaviors occurred among students in a public school setting located in a large, urban area, where multiple sources of information outside of the school system were not accessible or not accessed by the students. This underscores the need for clinicians and other health professionals to convey health information and screen for risk behavior when opportunities present themselves, such as when students present for an annual physical examination for school or for participation in team sports.
Studies of various forms of cancer, including breast, colorectal, and stomach cancers, have found that the incidence of these cancers in immigrant populations to the U.S. tends to converge towards the rates seen in the U.S. and away from those in their countries of origin even within the first generation. For instance, Ziegler and colleagues (1993) reported from their study of breast cancer incidence rates from 1983 through 1987 among Chinese, Filipino, and Japanese women under the age of 55 that the incidence rates in the immigrating generation were higher than in their native countries and converged towards the even higher rates of similarly aged women in the San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Oahu areas. A study of cancer mortality in Chinese immigrants to New York City, U.S.-born whites, and Chinese in Tianjin during the years 1986 through 1990 found that the standardized breast ratio for cancer mortality among the New York City Chinese was intermediate between the lower ratio among Chinese in Tianjin and the higher ratio among U.S.-born whites (Stellman and Wang, 1994).
Risk factors for colon cancer, which is the third most common cancer for both men and women worldwide (Coleman, et al., 1993), may include diet, occupational exposures (Garabrant, et al., 1984), and reduced physical activity (Tomatis, et al., 1990). It is of note that although the rates of colon cancer are relatively low in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, they are increasing in places of rapid urbanization (Tomatis, et al., 1990). A study of rates of colorectal cancer among Puerto Rican immigrants to Connecticut found that the rates among the immigrants were higher than those found in Connecticut, but lower than the rates observed in Puerto Rico (Polednak, 1992).
Rates of prostate cancer have been found to be higher in developed and developing countries, as compared to undeveloped countries (Tomatis, et al., 1990). Incidence rates of prostate cancer among immigrants have often been found to be intermediate between those of the immigrants' native country and those of the U.S., like the rates for breast and colorectal cancer. Dunn (1975) reported from his study of the incidence rates of prostate cancer among Chinese and Japanese immigrants to the San Francisco Bay area that the rates were higher than U.S. rates, but lower than the rates in the countries of nativity.
While these migration studies have been used for hypotheses relating to the influence of genes and environment, one must question whether the apparently elevated risk of various forms of cancer among immigrants groups may be attributable, at least in part, to the significant gaps in health screening utilization by immigrants, including those living in urban areas. It was reported from an analysis of the 2000 National Health Interview Survey that women who had immigrated to the U.S. during the previous 10 years were among those least likely to have had a mammogram within the previous two years or a Pap test within the previous three years (Swan, et al., 2003). Among men and women, recent immigrants were among those least likely to have had a fecal occult blood test or endoscopy within the recommended screening interval. A greater proportion of those surveyed who lived in Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) had had a mammogram in the two previous years compared to non-MSA residents. (An MSA is defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as a county or group of counties with at least one city of 50,000 or by the Census Bureau as an urbanized area of at least 50,000 with a metropolitan population of at least 100,000.)
Other studies similarly indicate less than optimal utilization of cancer screening procedures. In a study of 148 foreign-born women of latino ethnicities living in or around Washington, D.C., it was found that although 93% of the women reported ever having had a Pap smear, only 42% had had one in the year prior to the study and 71% had had one in the three years immediately preceding the study; 24% had not followed screening recommendations for cervical cancer (Fernandez, et al., 1998). Among women over the age of 40, 62% had ever had a mammogram, but only 33% had followed the screening recommendations for their age (a mam-mogram once every year or two years for women ages 40 to 49, and once a year for women 50 years of age or older). Knowledge about screening recommendations was extremely low. The women offered various explanations for why they had not obtained a Pap smear or mammogram including embarrassment about the exam, fear of the test itself, fear of detecting cancer, cost, and the absence of any symptoms that they believed would indicate the existence of cancer. Women living in the U.S. for five to nine years were found to be more likely than recent immigrants to have complied with screening recommendations. It was hypothesized that this difference may have been related to additional barriers experienced by recent immigrants, including language, ineligibility for federal programs due to undocumented status, and competing priorities (Fernandez, et al., 1998).
A study of 533 latina immigrants, 270 U.S.-born latinas, and 422 white women in Orange County, California reported similar findings. A smaller proportion of the immigrant women, compared to the U.S.-born latina and white women, had received a Pap test during the preceding three years. Those lacking health insurance and those of lower acculturation levels were least likely to have obtained Pap tests. The study additionally found that latina immigrants were more likely than members of the other groups to believe that early sexual intercourse, multiple sexual partners, and having a spouse with multiple sexual partners were risk factors for cervical cancer (Hubbell, et al., 1996). However, they were also more likely to believe that the risk of cervical cancer was increased as a result of poor hygiene, having an abortion, fate, vaginal trauma, antibiotics, and having sex while menstruating.
Utilization of cancer screening tests has also been found to be low among Korean immigrants. A survey of 438 Korean-American women in Maryland found that English language proficiency was associated with ever having had a mammo-gram and the proportion of lifetime spent in the U.S. was associated with having a Pap test (Juan, et al., 2000).
Relatively little attention has been devoted to an examination of the urban environment on the development of cancer and cancer mortality risk among immigrants. One cancer researcher explained the need for and difficulty of such investigations as follows:
[I]nvestigation into differential exposures to fat-soluble environmental chemicals may reveal etiologies of breast and prostate cancers. In addition to diet and alcohol consumption, the environment is encountered through contact with skin and lungs. Numerous chemical compounds, such as hair dressings, skin lotions, and contaminated water come into contact with the skin. Determination of the possible relationship of a specific pollutant with incidence of cancer is difficult as pollution is usually a mix of chemicals. For example, ambient air content of benzene, which is associated with mammary cancer in animal models, is frequently higher than U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines in urban areas; however, the effort to separate the putative effect from effects of other chemicals also found in the environment is daunting (Gordon, 1998).
Immigrant children may suffer from chronic disease existing prior to their arrival that may not have been diagnosed. A retrospective medical records review in Portland, Maine of 132 refugees aged 2 months through 18 years arriving from diverse countries to the U.S. found that, although the overall health status of many children appeared good, almost one-fifth of the children had hepatitis B surface antibody, anemia was detected in almost one-fifth of the children, and almost one-fifth of the children under the age of 6 had elevated blood lead levels (Hayes, et al., 1998). The oral health of inner-city immigrant children from Central American countries has been found to be related to the recency of the mothers' arrival in the U.S. (Watson, et al., 1999).
Other conditions among immigrants are not carried into the U.S. but may be associated with circumstances in the U.S. A study of asthma prevalence among Asian American school children in Boston found that rates of diagnosed and undiagnosed asthma among immigrant children in Boston found a lower rate of asthma among the children in Chinatown (Lee, et al., 2003). It was hypothesized that the lower rate may have been a function of recent immigration and shorter duration to environmental exposures in the U.S. and/or reliance on traditional remedies to treat symptoms. A study of acute appendicitis cases over a one-year period in California and New York found that latino and Asian children had a higher likelihood of appendiceal rupture in California, while black children had a higher risk of rupture in New York (Guagliardo, et al., 2003). The authors concluded that immigration and acculturation level may be risk factors for delayed emergency care, resulting in appendicitis rupture. The underlying reasons for the delay in emergency care were not explored.
A significant body of literature exists that addresses mental health issues among immigrant populations. This section presents findings relating to mental illness diagnoses among immigrants living in urban areas. However, published research often fails to indicate whether the immigrant-participants of a study are living in urban areas. In addition, the impact of migration to and/or residence in an urban area on immigrants' mental health or services utilization has not been well-explored and significant additional research is warranted. Unfortunately, basic questions remain unanswered: Does residence in urban areas, compared to suburban or rural living, increase the incidence of mental illness among immigrants due to the stresses of urban living? Is prognosis from a diagnosed mental illness worse due to difficulties associated with the complexities of accessing care in large urban areas, or improved because of access to a greater number of services? Does residence in urban ethnic enclaves serve to protect severely mentally ill persons from victimization or does it serve to isolate mentally ill immigrants still further due to stigmatization, alternative models to explain and/or treat behaviors, and a distrust of the western medical system?
2.2.3.a. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. A number of studies have examined the occurrence of posttraumatic stress disorder and/or depression among immigrants residing in urban areas. However, these studies did not consider separately the impact of urban living on individuals' experience of symptoms. A study of 460 Vietnamese immigrants in Orange County, California found that 35% were experiencing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (Yamamoto, et al., 1989, cited in Shapiro, et al., 1999). In comparison, the National Comorbidity Survey, based on a stratified, multi-stage, area probability sample of noninstitutionalized civilian individuals ages 15 to 54 in the U.S., reported a 12-month prevalence of 3.9% for PTSD (Kessler, et al., 1999).
2.2.3.b. Depression. A recent study of 215 Vietnamese immigrants, also conducted in Orange County, California, found that the younger adults in the study were more likely to be highly acculturated and employed, but were more likely to be depressed and reported significantly more family conflict and greater dissatisfaction with life in the U.S. than were the older respondents (Shapiro, et al., 1999). The relationship between acculturation level and depression, however, remains unclear. Yet another study conducted with 1,789 latinos in rural and urban counties in the Sacramento area of California found that the prevalence of depression was highest among immigrants and higher still among those who were least acculturated (Gonzalez, et al., 2001). It would be helpful to the development of intervention programs to understand, for instance, if exposure to urban violence appeared to trigger the manifestations of PTSD or exacerbate depression.
2.2.3.c. Suicide. A study of suicides from 1970 through 1992 among persons aged 15 to 34 in California found that immigrants were underrepresented among the 32,928 deaths (Sorenson and Shen, 1996b). Firearms were the most common method of suicide among both immigrants and U.S.-born individuals, and the home was the most common site for suicide among both groups. Foreign-born latinos, who came primarily from Mexico, appeared to account for the apparent lower risk of suicide. They appeared to be at higher risk of suicide than their counterparts in Mexico, but at lower risk than their counterparts born in the U.S. (Sorenson and Shen, 1996b). It has been hypothesized that the tendency of immigrants to settle in ethnic enclaves in large cities, close to other immigrants as well as family and friends, may serve as a preventive factor for suicide by reducing social isolation and promoting contact with those with similar circumstances and a common language (Shen and Sorenson, 1998).
2.2.3.d. Mental Health Services. In general, reports indicate that mental health services are greatly underutilized by immigrant groups, including immigrants in urban areas. A study of 3,012 randomly sampled Mexican Americans in urban, small town, and rural areas of Fresno County, California reported that only 15.4% of the immigrant respondents found through study screening to have a mental disorder had utilized mental health services, compared to 37.5% of the U.S.-born study participants with such a diagnosis (Vega, et al., 1999). Proportionately more mental health services were utilized by immigrants living in urban areas as compared to rural areas. The authors of the study hypothesized that the low utilization of mental services could be explained by reference to one or more factors requiring further investigation: cultural beliefs about mental health problems, ineffective and inappropriate therapies, a relative scarcity of Spanish-speaking therapists, difficulties accessing services, and/or the protective effects of family members and social network supports.
Urban areas, however, cannot be assumed to have the necessary services or networks to provide immigrants with the support that is needed. A study of loneliness in 110 elderly Korean immigrants in a large metropolitan area in the U.S. found that, despite long periods of residence in the U.S., the majority indicated a high level of identification with their ethnic group (Kim, 1999). Most continued to speak little English. The majority of respondents relied upon adult children, spouses, and Korean neighbors and church members for support and, importantly, did not identify any non-Korean individual as providing support. The women reported high levels of loneliness. Most of those individuals who respondents identified as providing support lived in the same housing complex, suggesting that the type of housing may influence social support and the degree of loneliness that is experienced (Kim, 1999).
A number of studies indicate that substance use may be a particular problem among immigrant latinos residing in urban areas. A study conducted in northern California found that compared to non-latino white students, latino students were both more likely to use alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and other substances and to engage in various forms of violence and drunken driving (Brindis, et al., 1995). Young Central American immigrants have been found to have higher alcohol and illegal substance use, particularly hallucinogens, marijuana, cocaine, and PCP, in comparison with other latinos (Tomasello, et al., 1993). Kurtines and Szapocznik (1995) found from their work with immigrants in the Miami area that drug use may be related to difficulties with assimilation and the effects of immigration on family cohesiveness. Their research indicates that young people in immigrant families acculturate more rapidly and completely than older family members, resulting in the exacerbation of struggles by adolescent members for increasing independence, parental loss of traditional leadership roles, and reduced emotional support for the youths. These findings are consistent with those of several other studies that have similarly reported an association between acculturation and/or duration of U.S. residence and increased risk of substance use or dependence. It was found in a study of 3,012 participants of Mexican origin residing in rural and urban areas of Fresno
County, California that longer residence in the U.S. and acculturation as measured by language preference were significantly associated with a higher risk of drug abuse or dependence (Alderete, et al., 2000). Another study found that increased duration of residence in New York City by Puerto Rican youth was associated with increased levels of substance use (Velez and Ungemack, 1989).
Although previous research indicated that latino girls often initiated their substance use through their relationships with men (Bullington, 1977), Moore (1994) found from her study of female adolescents from street-oriented families in barrio neighborhoods of Los Angeles female heroin-using gang members often are born into a "bad girl" label, to parents who have a history of gang membership and drug use. Moore hypothesized that traditionally conservative values generally protect girls from substance use, but girls born into a "bad-girl" label are disadvantaged by these same values, which result in their isolation from more positive social contact. Additionally, these traditional values may serve to increase the risk of substance use and gang membership among males, who are often allowed significant freedom to be on the streets.
These studies taken together suggest that longer residence in the U.S., higher levels of immigrant youth acculturation to U.S. culture, and parental ascription to traditional gender roles for their children may increase the risk of substance use among immigrant youth. Accordingly, it may be advisable to incorporate into prevention programs for immigrant youth components that address the stress associated with the immigration process, adjustment to U.S. society, changing family dynamics and family member roles resulting from immigration, the positive and negative aspects of traditional and nontraditional gender roles, and positive strategies for addressing these changes and accompanying stress.
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Among the evils which a vitiated appetite has fastened upon mankind, those that arise from the use of Tobacco hold a prominent place, and call loudly for reform. We pity the poor Chinese, who stupifies body and mind with opium, and the wretched Hindoo, who is under a similar slavery to his favorite plant, the Betel but we present the humiliating spectacle of an enlightened and christian nation, wasting annually more than twenty-five millions of dollars, and destroying the health and the lives of thousands, by a practice not at all less degrading than that of the Chinese or Hindoo.