Linguistic Isolation and Mortality in Older Mexican Americans: Findings from the Hispanic Established Populations Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly

Donglan Zhang, Janani Rajbhandari-Thapa, Saswat Panda, Zhuo Chen, Lu Shi, Yan Li, Ye Shen, Ramesh Ghimire, Kerstin Gerst Emerson

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Limited English proficiency and increased language isolation are known to be associated with adverse health outcomes. It is not clear how neighborhood-level linguistic isolation may impact individual health and risk of death among Hispanic older adults. We examined the link between living in a linguistically isolated neighborhood and all-cause mortality among an older Mexican American cohort. Methods: Using a longitudinal sample of older Mexican Americans from the Hispanic Established Populations for the Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly, we calculated the days from the baseline interview (1993-1994) until observed death through five waves of follow-up (until 2004-2005) using Cox regression. A linguistically isolated neighborhood was defined as a census tract with more than 30% of linguistically isolated households. Results: Our results showed that living in a neighborhood with more than 30% of linguistically isolated households predicted higher mortality (hazard ratio: 1.25; 95% confidence interval: 1.04-1.50), after adjusting for age, sex, nativity, years of education, marital status, self-reported health status, number of chronic conditions, ever smoked, ever drank, and other neighborhood-level contextual factors. Conclusion: Living in a neighborhood with a high proportion of linguistically isolated households predicted higher mortality among older Mexican Americans. Addressing the social capital shortage in linguistically isolated neighborhoods is one way to address health disparities in the United States.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-381
Number of pages7
JournalHealth Equity
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Mexican Americans
  • hazards survival analysis
  • linguistic isolation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Information Management

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