What is the impact of poverty and limited-English proficiency on Asian American health? Why do Asian Americans respond to certain drugs differently from other racial minorities? Why do Asian Americans have the lowest rates of cancer screenings? What is the usefulness of some medical screening practices? Why are teens so attracted to smoking? What intervention strategies are best to address particular health issues?
All of these questions require the best information possible to help us address these very difficult health issues. At the Center for Asian Health Equity (CAHE), we recognize that the national and local health research infrastructure needs to be reorganized in order to be able to answer these questions if we are to close the gaps on disparities affecting Asian American populations. Such infrastructure needs to support ventures involving researchers working in transdisciplinary fields and locations. We’ve learned a lot in the past few decades about what determines health and where we should be concentrating our efforts. Much of the existing research is telling us that we need to look at the big picture of health to examine factors both inside and outside the health care system that affect our health. At every stage of life, health is determined by complex interactions between social and economic factors, the physical environment and individual behavior.
CAHE’s research agenda seeks to (1) increase understanding of how the basic determinants of health influence collective and personal well-being, and (2) adopt strategies that improve health for Asian Americans. Our focus on the complex interactions between factors that contribute to health requires:
- a focus on the root causes of a problem, with evidence to support the strategy to address the problem
- efforts to prevent the problem
- a focus on partnerships and multi-sectoral cooperation
- finding flexible and multidimensional solutions for complex problems
- public involvement and community participation