Neighborhood Cohesion and Oral Health Problems among Older Chinese American Immigrants: Does Acculturation Make a Difference?

Weiyu Mao, Bei Wu, Iris Chi, Wei Yang, Xinqi Dong, Suzanne Meeks

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Abstract

Background and Objectives: Despite an increasing, yet still limited amount of research on social determinants of oral health, the influences of neighborhood characteristics remain understudied, especially within the context of immigration. Acculturation is multidimensional, and its influences on the oral health of immigrants vary across age and ethnic groups. This study investigated the relationship between neighborhood cohesion and oral health problems among older Chinese American immigrants, and whether and to what extent acculturation indicators moderate the relationship between such cohesion and oral health. Methods: The research design and working sample included 3,157 older Chinese American immigrants aged 60 years or older from the baseline of the Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago. Neighborhood cohesion was measured by a six-item scale. Oral health problems were measured by the presence or absence of such problems. Acculturation included residence in ethnic enclaves, length of stay, and behavioral acculturation. Stepwise logistic regression models with interaction terms (Neighborhood cohesion × Acculturation) were conducted to examine the association between neighborhood cohesion and oral health problems, accounting for sociodemographics, health conditions, and health behaviors. Results: Individuals experiencing higher levels of neighborhood cohesion reported a lower likelihood of having oral health problems. The protective effect of neighborhood cohesion against having oral health problems was stronger when individuals resided in ethnic enclaves such as Chinatown. Discussion and Implications: To promote optimal oral health, interventions need to account for individuals' perceptions and levels of integration into their neighborhoods and communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-228
Number of pages10
JournalGerontologist
Volume60
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

Keywords

  • Ethnic enclave
  • Oral health status
  • Social cohesion
  • U.S. older Chinese adults

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