National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (U.S.) -- Analysis, Health surveys -- United States, Mexican Americans -- Health and hygiene, Mexican Americans -- Cultural assimilation -- Effect on mortality


Background: Mexican Americans comprise the largest percentage of Hispanics in the United States, accounting for 9.5% of the population in 2006. Although more than 40% of Mexican Americans are foreign born, even individuals born in the U.S. face the process of acculturation, or the merging of Mexican and American cultures. Previous research has linked acculturation to both negative and positive health outcomes, with more acculturated Mexican Americans experiencing increased rates of substance use and abuse, asthma, and obesity, but decreased rates of physical inactivity and low self-esteem. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between acculturation and all-cause mortality in a nationally representative sample of Mexican Americans.

Methods: Using SAS and SUDAAN, we conducted a survival analysis using data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), a nationwide, multi-stage survey conducted between 1988 and 1994. Our analytic sample consisted of 3,330 Mexican-American adults ages 25-64 years who took part in a home interview and were followed up for mortality until 2002. Language spoken at home was used to assess the level of acculturation with those speaking mostly Spanish at home identified as having lower levels of acculturation. Results After adjusting for age, education, presence of chronic diseases and health insurance we found that acculturation was not a predictor of all-cause mortality in this group of Mexican Americans, men or women ages 25-64 years.

Conclusion: These findings indicate that acculturation may have no affect on the mortality of Mexican American men and women younger than 65 years of age. Additional research needs to be conducted in order to further explore other measurements of acculturation and the full spectrum of its effects on morbidity and disease-specific mortality.

Faculty Mentor: Carlos J. Crespo



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