Differences in Self-Rated Health by Immigrant Status and Language Preference among Arab Americans in the Detroit Metropolitan Area

Sawsan Abdulrahim, American University of Beirut
Wayne Baker, University of Michigan

In this study, we examine self-reported health (SRH) among Arab Americans by immigrant status and language preference. We used data from the 2003 Detroit Arab American Study, a random sample household survey (N = 1,016). Logistic regression models were specified controlling for gender, age, education and income. Our findings reveal that, compared to U.S.-born Arab Americans, immigrants were more likely to report fair/poor health. However, when language is included in the analysis, English-speaking immigrants did not significantly differ from US-born Arab Americans. Arabic-speaking immigrants continued to report fair/poor health at a higher rate. In this paper, a number of potential explanations for our findings are discussed: poorer objective health status, acculturation-related factors that discourage boasting about health and linguistic differences. We conclude by arguing for more studies to unravel the heterogeneity in the health of Arab Americans and to explore the meanings of perceived health status among this group.

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Presented in Session 64: Arabs Here and Abroad