Colorectal cancer screening disparities in Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders: Which groups are most vulnerable?

Hee Yun Lee, Melissa Lundquist, Eunsu Ju, Xianghua Luo, Aloen Townsend

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Background. Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a significant cause of mortality among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), yet studies have consistently reported lower CRC screening rates among AAPIs than among non-Latino Whites and African Americans. Moreover, existing research tends to aggregate AAPIs as one group when reporting CRC screening, masking the disproportionate burden in cancer screening that exists across AAPI groups. Methods. This study examines differences in CRC screening rates in both aggregated and disaggregated AAPI groups as compared with non-Latino Whites in order to identify the most vulnerable AAPI subgroups in terms of obtaining CRC screening. This study utilizes merged data from the 2001, 2003, and 2005 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), specifically the data pertaining to adults aged 50 and older (n=52,491) from seven AAPI groups (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, South Asian, Vietnamese, and Pacific Islander) and non-Latino Whites. Andersen's Behavioral Model of Health Services Use was utilized to select potential confounders to racial/ethnic differences in CRC screening. Results. When AAPI groups were considered as an aggregate, their CRC screening rate (46.8%) was lower than that of non-Latino Whites (57.7%). When AAPI groups were disaggregated, further disparity was noted: Koreans (32.7%) showed the lowest CRC screening rate, whereas Japanese (59.8%) had the highest. When the influence of potential predisposing, enabling, and need confounders was adjusted, Koreans, Filipinos, and South Asians were found to have a lower likelihood than non-Latino Whites to undergo CRC screening. Comparisons among AAPI subgroups further revealed that Filipinos, Koreans, Pacific Islanders, and South Asians were less likely than Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese to receive CRC screening. Conclusion. These results highlight the importance of identifying differences in CRC screening behavior among disaggregated AAPI subgroups in order to help health professionals and policy-makers prioritize which AAPI subgroups need the most urgent interventions in terms of CRC screening promotion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-518
Number of pages18
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Asian American
  • Behavioral model of health services use
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Disparity
  • Pacific Islander
  • Screening


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