Journal of Community Health

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 269–277 | Cite as

Addressing the Health Needs of High-Risk Filipino Americans in the Greater Philadelphia Region

  • Aisha Bhimla
  • Lauren Yap
  • Minsun Lee
  • Brenda Seals
  • Hermie Aczon
  • Grace X. Ma
Original Paper


Filipino Americans represent one of the largest and most diverse immigrant populations in the United States. It has been established that chronic diseases are a significant public health issue affecting this population. We conducted a health needs assessment of 200 Filipino Americans aged 18 years or older residing in the greater Philadelphia region. Study participants were recruited from eight Filipino community-based organizations in the region. Information about demographic and acculturative characteristics, health behaviors, self-reported chronic health conditions, and chronic disease perception were collected. Participants were older and highly acculturated. With regards to health behaviors, several did not meet dietary fruit and vegetables intake and physical activity guidelines. The top five health conditions were high blood pressure (67.5 %), high blood cholesterol (57.1 %), arthritis (28.9 %), diabetes (21.8 %), and cancer (14.7 %). Majority of participants perceived high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes to be a concern in their community, and had high awareness of the risk factors associated with these diseases. Reported rates of hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes suggest that lifestyle interventions targeting diet and physical activity, in addition to health education, are needed in this population.


Filipino Needs assessment Community health Dietary behaviors Noncommunicable diseases 



The authors wish to thank the partners, volunteers, community coordinators of Asian Community Health Coalition and Filipino community organizations and research team at the Center for Asian Health, Temple University, who facilitated and supported the data collection of the study.


This research was supported by faculty research funds (PI Dr. Grace Ma) and NIH funded U54 CA152512 Asian Community Cancer Health Disparities Center (PI: Dr. Grace Ma). CDC funded U58 REACH (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health) (PI: Grace Ma).


  1. 1.
    US Census American Fact Finder. (2014). American Fact Finder. Retrieved April 17, 2016, from
  2. 2.
    Dela Cruz, F. A., McBride, M. R., Compas, L. B., Calixto, P., & Van Derveer, C. P. (2002). White paper on the health status of filipino Americans and recommendations for research. Nursing Outlook, 50(1), 7–15.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
  4. 4.
    Dela Cruz, F. A., Lao, B. T., & Heinlein, C. (2013). Level of acculturation, food intake, dietary changes, and health status of first-generation Filipino Americans in Southern California. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 25(11), 619–630.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Holland, A. T., & Palaniappan, L. P. (2012). Problems with the collection and interpretation of asian-american health data: Omission, aggregation, and extrapolation. Annals of Epidemiology, 22(6), 397–405.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Palaniappan, L., Araneta, M., Assimes, T., Barrett-Connor, E., Carnethon, M., Criqui, M., et al. & on behalf of the American Heart Association Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, Council on Peripheral Vascular Disease, Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism, Council on Clinical Cardiology, and Council on Cardiovascular Nursing. (2010). Call to action: Cardiovascular disease in Asian Americans A science advisory from the american heart association. Circulation, 122(12), 1242–1252.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Barnes, P. M., Adams, P. F., Powell-Griner, E., & National Center for Health Statistics (U.S.). (2008). Health characteristics of the asian adult population: United states, 2004–2006. (No. (PHS) 2008-1250; no. 394) Hyattsville, MD: U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Ye, J., Rust, G., Baltrus, P., & Daniels, E. (2009). Cardiovascular risk factors among Asian Americans: Results from a national health survey. Annals of Epidemiology, 19(10), 718–723.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Holland, A. T., Wong, E. C., Lauderdale, D. S., & Palaniappan, L. P. (2011). Spectrum of cardiovascular diseases in asian-american Racial/Ethnic subgroups. Annals of Epidemiology, 21(8), 608–614.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Choi, S., Liu, M., Palaniappan, L., Wang, E., & Wang, N. (2013). Gender and ethnic difference in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes among Asian subgroups in California. J. Diabetes Complications, 27, 429–435.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hastings, K., Jose, P., Kapphahn, K., Frank, A., Goldstein, B., Thompson, C., et al. (2015). Leading causes of death among asian american subgroups (2003–2011). Plos One, 10(4), e0124341.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Huo, D., & Lauderdale, D. (2009). Leading causes of death for older Asian Americans. North American Journal of Medicine and Science, 2, 156–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Klatsky, A. L., & Armstrong, M. A. (1991). Cardiovascular risk factors among Asian Americans living in Northern California. American Journal of Public Health, 81(Nov 91), 1423–1428.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Serafica, R. C., Lane, S. H., & Ceria-Ulep, C. D. (2013). Dietary acculturation and predictors of anthropometric indicators among Filipino Americans. SAGE Open, 3(3), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Dela Cruz, F. A., & Galang, C. B. (2008). The illness beliefs, perceptions, and practices of Filipino Americans with hypertension. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 20(3), 118–127.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Montano, J. J., Acosta-Deprez, V., & Sinay, T. (2009). Assessing the health care needs of Filipino Americans in greater long beach. Public Administration and Management, 14(1), 156–190.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Abesamis-Mendoza, N., Kadag, C., Nadal, K., Ursua, R., Gavin, N. P., & Divino, L. A. (2007). Community health needs & resource assessment: An exploratory study of Filipino Americans in the New York metropolitan area. New York: New York University School of Medicine Institute of Community Health and Research.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Vargas, P., & Jurado, L. (2015). Dietary acculturation among Filipino Americans. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(1), 1–1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    US Department of Health and Human Services (2016). Behavioral risk factor suveillance system. Retrieved from
  20. 20.
    American Heart Association (2015). The American Heart Association’s diet and lifestyle recommendations. Retrieved from
  21. 21.
    Mozaffarian, D., Benjamin, E. J., Go, A. S., Arnett, D. K., Blaha, M. J., Cushman, M., et al. & on behalf of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. (2015). Heart disease and stroke Statistics—2015 update: A report from the american heart association. Circulation, 131(4), e29–e322.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    US Department of Health and Human Services (2008). Physical activity guidelines for Americans. Retrieved from
  23. 23.
    Serafica, R. (2011). Concept Analysis of Acculturation in Filipino immigrants within health context. Nursing Forum, 46(3), 128–136.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Aruguete, M. S., Yates, A., Edman, J. L., & Sanders, G. (2007). Eating and acculturation in a Filipino american population on a small hawaiian island. North American Journal of Psychology, 9(2), 347–358.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Aaron, K. J., & Sanders, P. W. (2013). Role of dietary salt and potassium intake in cardiovascular health and disease: A review of the evidence. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 88(9), 987–995. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2013.06.005.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2015) 2015–2020 Dietary guidelines for Americans (8th ed.). Retrieved from
  27. 27.
    Appel, L. J., Brands, M. W., Daniels, S. R., Karanja, N., Elmer, P. J., & Sacks, F. M. & American Heart Association. (2006). Dietary approaches to prevent and treat hypertension: A scientific statement from the American heart association. Hypertension, 47(2), 296–308.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Yi, S. S., Roberts, C., Lightstone, A. S., Shih, M., & Trinh-Shevrin, C. (2015). Disparities in meeting physical activity guidelines for Asian-Americans in two metropolitan areas in the united states. Annals of Epidemiology, 25(9), 656–660.e2.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Ursua, R. A., Islam, N. S., Aguilar, D. E., Wyatt, L. C., Tandon, S. D., Abesamis-Mendoza, N., et al. (2013). Predictors of hypertension among filipino immigrants in the northeast US. Journal of Community Health, 38(5), 847–855.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Stavig, G., Igra, A., & Leonard, A. R. (1988). Hypertension and related health issues among Asians and Pacific Islanders in California. Public Health Reports, 103, 28–37.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Ursua, R., Aguilar, D., Wyatt, L., Tandon, S. D., Escondo, K., Rey, M., & Trinh-Shevrin, C. (2014). Awareness, treatment and control of hypertension among filipino immigrants. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 29(3), 455–462.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Grandinetti, A., Chang, H. K., Theriault, A., & Mor, J. (2005). Metabolic syndrome in a multiethnic population in rural hawaii. Ethnicity and Disease, 15(2), 233–237.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Dalusung-Angosta, A. (2013). CHD knowledge and risk factors among Filipino-Americans connected to primary care services. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 25(9), 503–512.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aisha Bhimla
    • 1
  • Lauren Yap
    • 1
  • Minsun Lee
    • 1
  • Brenda Seals
    • 1
  • Hermie Aczon
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Grace X. Ma
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Asian Health, Lewis Katz School of MedicineTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Filipino American Society of South Jersey, Inc.SicklervilleUSA
  3. 3.Filipino Executive Council of Greater Philadelphia, Inc.Mount LaurelUSA

Personalised recommendations