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Enhancing Validity of a South Asian Tobacco Survey Module

Institution: University of California, San Francisco
Investigator(s): Arnab Mukherjea, Dr.P.H., M.P.H.
Award Cycle: 2010 (Cycle 19) Grant #: 19FT-0175 Award: $89,999
Subject Area: Tobacco-Use Prevention and Cessation
Award Type: Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards

Initial Award Abstract
Tobacco use is extremely dangerous to the health of those who use them and others who are exposed to second-hand and outdoor smoke. Certain groups of people, such as individuals who have moved here from other countries, use forms of tobacco that are specific to their cultures. These people are often unaware of the health risks of using these products and continue to use them to celebrate their ethnic identity. These products are sometimes brought into the country and sold illegally, and don’t have the warning labels required by federal agencies to ensure that users are aware of how these forms of tobacco cause heart disease and cancer. In addition, researchers don’t know how many people are using these tobacco products and how often they are being used. In order to measure rates of tobacco use, scientists in universities and public health agencies use questionnaires to ask members of the public if they smoke and if they do, how often and for how long. However, these surveys don’t ask about tobacco products that are specific to certain minority groups. This study will help improve a survey created to measure use of culturally-specific tobacco products by South Asians in California and throughout the United States. South Asians are individuals who themselves have come from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, or have relatives who have come from these countries. The number of South Asians in California and the United States is growing at a rapid pace. However, surveys administered by federal and state public health agencies don’t ask about tobacco products that South Asians are known to use often (across the globe and in some parts of the United States). This project will have expert researchers and members of the South Asian community review and provide information about the strengths and weaknesses of an existing survey to make sure that it is asking the right questions in an appropriate way. In addition, the study will also explore different ways of using the questionnaire, such as sending it by mail, putting it on the internet, calling South Asians to ask them complete it on the phone, or interviewing them in-person in places where large numbers of South Asians gather. Study researchers want to make sure that they understand the best ways to reach this population and have them complete this survey without inconveniencing them or taking up too much of their time. Once South Asians provide information about the most effective way(s) to ask about their tobacco use, researchers will be able to design a strategy that allows them to use the survey to reach large numbers of South Asians in California and the United States. Understanding the causes of diseases related to tobacco use is very important in developing programs and policies to prevent these illnesses. As California continues to have rapid increases in the growth of minority populations, researchers need to understand the impact of all forms of tobacco, including those that are used for cultural reasons. This project will help researchers measure rates of such products used by South Asians and, if rates are high, allow health professionals to create strategies to prevent and reduce the rates of use. For instance, if South Asians are known to use certain products more often, health professionals can help raise awareness of health risks among the community, enforce tobacco regulations in places where these products are sold, and provide services to those who want to quit using tobacco. California is one of the leading states having a very effective tobacco control program. In order for it to continue its success, health researchers need to keep measuring rates of different forms of tobacco use among its many minority populations. This information will be very valuable for California’s research institutions and social services agencies to keep protecting the health of all its diverse residents and help other states have similar successes among their populations.

Social and cultural influences on tobacco-related health disparities among South Asians in the USA
Periodical: Tobacco Control Index Medicus:
Authors: Mukherjea A, Morgan PA, Snowden LR, Ling PM, Ivey SL ART
Yr: 2011 Vol: 10.1136 Nbr: tc.2010 Abs: Pg: 042309