Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 346–355 | Cite as

A Health Profile and Overview of Healthcare Experiences of Cambodian American Refugees and Immigrants Residing in Southern California

  • Mienah Zulfacar SharifEmail author
  • Kelly Biegler
  • Richard Mollica
  • Susan Elliot Sim
  • Elisa Nicholas
  • Maria Chandler
  • Quyen Ngo-Metzger
  • Kittya Paigne
  • Sompia Paigne
  • Dara H. Sorkin
Original Paper


Asian Americans are understudied in health research and often aggregated into one homogenous group, thereby disguising disparities across subgroups. Cambodian Americans, one of the largest refugee communities in the United States, may be at high risk for adverse health outcomes. This study compares the health status and healthcare experiences of Cambodian American refugees and immigrants. Data were collected via questionnaires and medical records from two community clinics in Southern California (n = 308). Chi square and t-tests examined the socio-demographic differences between immigrants and refugees, and ANCOVA models compared the mean differences in responses for each outcome, adjusting for age at immigration, education level, and clinic site. Cambodian American refugees reported overall lower levels of health-related quality of life (all p’s < 0.05 in unadjusted models) and self-rated health [unadjusted means (SD) = 18.2 (16.8) vs. 21.7 (13.7), p < 0.05], but either similar or more positive healthcare experiences than Cambodian American immigrants. In adjusted analyses, refugees had higher rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk (e.g. heart condition and hypertension; p’s < 0.05) compared to Cambodian American immigrants. There were minimal differences in self-reported health behaviors between the two groups. There is a need for more health promotion efforts among Cambodian American refugees and immigrants to improve their health outcomes and perceived wellbeing.


Disparities Health status Healthcare experiences Refugees Immigrants Cambodian American 



This study was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (Grant No. R01 MH091221), National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (Grant No. UL1 TR0001414), Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Grant No. T16MC06956), and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) University of California Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disorders Training Program (Grant No. T73MC30114).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mienah Zulfacar Sharif
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kelly Biegler
    • 2
  • Richard Mollica
    • 3
  • Susan Elliot Sim
    • 4
  • Elisa Nicholas
    • 5
    • 6
  • Maria Chandler
    • 5
    • 6
  • Quyen Ngo-Metzger
    • 7
  • Kittya Paigne
    • 8
  • Sompia Paigne
    • 8
  • Dara H. Sorkin
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of MedicineUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryHarvard UniversityBostonUSA
  4. 4.Many Roads StudiosTorontoCanada
  5. 5.The Children’s Clinic, Serving Children and Their FamiliesLong BeachUSA
  6. 6.Department of PediatricsUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA
  7. 7.US Preventive Services Task Force Program, Agency for Healthcare Research and QualityRockvilleUSA
  8. 8.Community Medical Wellness CentersLong BeachUSA

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