How ACPNY Cares for Our Asian American and Pacific Islander Patients
By: Drs. Raymond Xu and Qian Gu
As members of the Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) community ourselves, we recall our own experiences as patients and the challenges we sometimes face when seeking care. For some members of our community, it may even feel like our cultural identity makes it more difficult to speak openly with providers to get the care we need.
But now, as health care providers who serve a large AAPI patient population, we’re able to understand both the patient and provider side of the care experience and address difficulties such as:
- Feeling Excluded: You may feel like you’re perceived as “other” and face unwelcome questions about where you come from. You may also feel like you’re considered non-American, even if you were raised or born in the U.S.
- Language Barrier: Approximately 77% of the AAPI population speaks a language other than English at home. Although telephonic translator services are often available where you receive care, you may feel uncomfortable using these services when discussing sensitive concerns such as sexual or mental health.
- Mental Health Access: In many AAPI cultures, discussing mental health is considered taboo, which makes it difficult to identify symptoms of depression or anxiety. You may also fear judgment from your provider, family members, and friends. Or, you may have trouble finding a therapist or psychiatrist who understands your cultural background.
- Differing Approaches to Treatment: Many AAPI cultures come with their own unique expectations and understandings of illnesses and treatments, and you may be interested in alternative treatments (e.g., holistic treatment and herbal supplements) in addition to the treatments typically prescribed in the U.S.
Why It’s So Important to Get the Care You Need.
Despite the barriers and difficulties described here, it’s incredibly important to not become discouraged when seeking care. If you avoid routine care and regular checkups, you’re putting your health at risk, for example by missing critical screenings that could prevent or minimize the effects of certain life-threatening conditions. Common conditions in the AAPI community include:
- Cancer: The AAPI community is the only U.S. population whose leading cause of death is cancer. Compared to other U.S. ethnic groups, they have much higher rates of liver and stomach cancer, but lower rates of screening.
- Diabetes: The AAPI community is about 40% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than the Caucasian population in the U.S. This is likely the result of genetics, high-carb diets, body fat distribution, and insulin resistance.
- Stomach Conditions: Acid reflux, bacterial infections, and stomach cancer are all very common in the AAPI community. This is possibly caused by consumption of hot teas, which can erode the stomach and esophageal lining. Certain foods like betel nuts can also increase the risk for mouth cancer.
- Hepatitis: The AAPI community accounts for 50% of hepatitis B cases in the U.S., despite making up only 5% of the population. Nearly two-thirds of people in these cases don’t even know they’re infected.
For all of these conditions, regular screenings and early detection can lead to more effective treatment or management. That’s why it’s so important to keep up with your routine care.
How Can ACPNY Help You?
At AdvantageCare Physicians (ACPNY), we understand that you may have a variety of concerns on your mind when seeking care. That’s why our diverse team of providers is committed to listening to everything you want to share and making your visit as easy and comfortable as possible. Starting with your first visit, we’ll work to create a sense of trust that will lead to more open conversations. And, if you’d prefer conversing in a language other than English, we also offer translations for our written materials and in-office encounters. We hope that taking these steps and forming a personal connection with you will encourage you to visit us regularly and help you achieve the best possible health outcomes.