Part I: Arab Americans in health: why are we missing?

Part I: Arab Americans in health: why are we missing?

  Part 1 in a 3-part series on Arab-American health and national engagement. by Amira Mouna, Serena Rasoul and Reem Ghoneim, Guest Contributors As the United States attempts to implement the first health care overhaul bill in decades – the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – minority health groups nationwide are gearing up to use this opportunity to address their communities’ health disparities. My colleagues and I were no different until we attempted to obtain national health disparity information on Arab-Americans; similar to what exists on the South Asian or East Asian communities within the US. What we found was alarming: although Arab-Americans are an underserved health population, they are not included in the national dialogue on minority health. In fact, the ACA recently implemented an initiative to improve data collection and quality on minority populations in the United States, but it did not include Arabs or Arab-Americans as a racial or ethnic group on the new Data Standards form.[1] Additionally, a recent search using the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH) website yielded zero results for multiple terms pertaining to Arab-Americans. The same was found across several other government agencies, research institutions, and national minority health initiatives. But with a population estimated over 3.5 million and growing every day, why are Arab-Americans missing?[2] The answer is complex, but one contributing factor may be due to the lack of a designation of Arabs or Arab-Americans as a minority group on the US Census or CDC National Center for Health Statistics forms. Having a distinct minority status is vital for research opportunities, funding allocation, grants...
Mind the Gap: Arab adolescents in mental health research

Mind the Gap: Arab adolescents in mental health research

  Amina Foda, Adolescent and Mental Health Contributor In this blog, Amina Foda reviews evidence on the relationship between discrimination and mental health among minority adolescents in the United States and questions the absence of Arab adolescents in mental health research. Research and academia can sometimes seem like a black hole of talking heads. It’s a long process to study a population of people and identify causes of disease and develop effective interventions, for example. It also takes a careful blend of corroborated results and social capital to translate research to practice. However, in an age of evidence-based interventions and data driven initiatives, work that uses empirical evidence is critical to developing health services and interventions for vulnerable populations across the globe.  Disparities in health exist along countless demographics, and in order to close this gap, evidence and research is essential. For the Arab population, there is a significant gap in health research. Whether they are Arab immigrants or Arabs living in the Middle East, the level of attention given to this population is scarce. In order to create a healthy society for Arabs, we must begin by collecting and analyzing reliable data and asking thoughtful questions. In my current studies of public health I began my quest towards understanding the Arab American experience and its impact on the health of a seemingly uncategorized minority in the United States (according to the US Census, persons of Middle Eastern descent are categorized as White). To begin, with several classmates, we sought to assess the existing knowledge regarding the mental health of Arab-immigrant adolescents. There is extensive research and documented evidence of the psychological...