Document Type

Occasional Paper

Publication Date



Purpose: This study examined the health and mental health status among U.S. Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indian, other Asian/Pacific Islander (API), and non-Hispanic White older adults, using nationally representative data. Method: An aggregated data file from the National Health Interview Survey from 2000 to 2009 was analyzed. The sample included 848 Chinese, 823 Filipino, 337 Asian Indian, 1,488 “other API,” and 74,042 non-Hispanic White older adults aged 65 and older. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to compare the health and mental health status among different ethnic groups of older adults and to identify related factors. Findings: The descriptive statistics reveal statistically significant differences in sociodemographic characteristics, health needs, and health insurance coverage among different groups of Asian American older adults. Compared with non-Hispanic White older adults, Chinese, Filipino and other API older adults reported worse health (Chinese: OR = 0.67, 95% CI = 0.52–0.83; Filipino: OR = 0.66, 95% CI = 0.50–0.88; other API: OR = 0.61, 95% CI = 0.49–0.75). Asian Indians were not significantly different from non-Hispanic Whites in their self-reported health. In terms of mental health, Asian Indian older adults (β = -0.014, p <0.001) had statistically significant lower levels of psychological distress compared with non-Hispanic Whites, while those of Chinese and Filipino older adults were not significantly different from non-Hispanic Whites. Discussion: Understanding similarities and differences in health and mental health needs among different groups can help social work professionals provide the best services to these populations. The limitations of using the NHIS data set are discussed as well as suggestions for data collection on Asian American older adult populations.


An Occasional Paper.

The views contained in this paper are those of the author and not necessarily of the Institute for Asian American Studies.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.