APA Health CARE: A Student-Led Initiative Addressing Health Care Barriers Faced by the Asian and Pacific Islander American Immigrant Population in Los Angeles

J Community Health. 2021 Apr;46(2):367-379. doi: 10.1007/s10900-020-00915-8.


Asian and Pacific Islander Americans face cultural, linguistic, and financial barriers to accessing health care. APA Health CARE (APAHC), a UCLA student-led organization, attempts to bridge these disparities through free community health screenings, health education seminars, and follow-up procedures. From 2011 to 2018, participants' demographic and health-related information were recorded during health fairs and follow-up phone calls. Trends in participant characteristics were analyzed over time. Health fair data were compared to data from follow-up phone calls to assess the effectiveness of health fair education and referral practices. 5635 participants from 69 health fairs were screened over the 8-year period. Follow-up contact was attempted for 2258 participants, of which 555 responded. Over time, a greater proportion of participants reported higher income, health insurance, and access to a regular doctor. Of those contacted at follow-up, 32.3% reported visiting a doctor, 50.2% reported making lifestyle changes, and 68.0% of those who were uninsured at health fairs reported obtaining health insurance within 1 month of attendance. Despite an observed increase in the proportion of participants having insurance and a regular doctor, health fair attendance remained consistent, possibly due to Asian American immigrants' preference for services that are convenient and linguistically and culturally accessible. Attendees reported visiting a physician, making lifestyle changes, and obtaining health insurance based on health fair referrals, suggesting measurable success with referral uptake and follow through. Student-led initiatives similar to APAHC can serve as catalysts to increase health literacy and motivate communities to seek health insurance and care.

Keywords: Asian and Pacific islander; Health education; Health fairs; Immigrants; Language barriers.

MeSH terms

  • Asian
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander*
  • Students