Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

There is a scarcity of research on screening practices among elderly Filipino Americans, and only a few studies have been done among aggregates of different Asian ethnic backgrounds. Although many Filipino older adults with minimal acculturation might be familiar with the common health screening programs, the importance of such screening to their health status may be poorly understood. Adult family members may facilitate, delay, or block older adults’ access to screening services as a means of protecting them from external forces (Mc Bride, 2006; Miranda, 1999; Soison & Antes, 1988). On the other hand, Filipino Americans with extensive acculturation experience may be more able to make use of the screening services that place significance on maintaining good health (Maxwell, 2000; McBride, 1997; McBride, 1998).

A Los Angeles study of Filipino American women’s (50 years and older, N=218) attitudes towards breast screening practices revealed lower screening rates among women who had shorter lengths of stay in the U.S (<10 years), less acculturation experience, and a lower level of education.

Concrete barriers, such as cost and time, and attitudinal variables, such as fear of finding breast cancer and the perception that mammograms are only necessary if symptoms are present, also influence screening practices (Maxwell, 1997).

Disparities in colorectal cancer screening also exist among Filipino Americans. A Los Angeles study in 2005-2006 (50 to 75 years old, N=487) revealed that less acculturated and lower income Filipino Americans received fecal occult blood screening (FOBT) without endoscopy , while Filipino Americans with a higher income and more extensive acculturation underwent endoscopy (colonoscopy) with or without FOBT. This disparity persists after adjusting for access to care (Maxwell, 2008).

A 2001 California Health Interview Survey, which examined colorectal cancer screening (CRC) rates among different Asian ethnic minorities (N=1771) 50 years of age and older, showed that Filipinos were the least likely to undergo CRC screening or to be up to date with screening, especially if they were older, male, less educated, recent immigrants, living with 3 or more other individuals, or poor and uninsured (Wong, 2005).