Health News Roundup

The gambling addiction Southeast Asian refugees face in CT, hospitals securing stable housing for their homeless patients, and more

Health equity
The lure of luck: How gambling can turn addictive for Southeast Asian refugees
Vanessa de la Torre, WNPR, February 6
The role of fortune and luck is big in some Asian cultures. Cards and dice games get woven into memories of baby showers, birthdays, weddings and funerals. As refugees in the U.S., some of the most thrilling outings as a family are day trips to glitzy casinos that cater to Asian patrons with Asian cuisine, entertainment, translated signs and native Asian-speaking workers. Southeast Asian refugees are among the groups that are especially vulnerable to falling into gambling addiction, experts say. One groundbreaking study more than a decade ago in Connecticut examined a sample group of refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos — and reported their rate of gambling addiction was almost 30 times the national average.

Bonus coverage: Hear a Where We Live episode on the topic.

Luis Velarde, The Washington Post, February 11
The rate of pregnancy-related deaths in the US is rising, and black women face a higher risk. About 700 women die a year as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications, and data shows that half of those deaths may have been prevented, and that black women are three to four times as likely to die than white women. The disparity reflects issues that go beyond education and income. In 2018, Beyoncé and Serena Williams shared their life-threatening experiences during childbirth, showing how black women, even international stars who can presumably afford the best in medical care, face greater pregnancy-related risks than their white counterparts.
linking care and community

Hospitals turn to housing to help homeless patients
Bridget M. Kuehn, JAMA Network, February 13
A 3-year experiment in providing housing to frequent emergency department patients at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago has been so successful that in 2018, the hospital decided to double the housing program’s size. Now, it’s looking for ways to expand the program even further.

Melissa Healy, LA Times, February 11
Across California, a blessing has become a curse for patients who dwell in overwhelmingly white communities: their ready access to opioid pain relievers. A new study of prescribing practices across all of California helps explain why opiates have wreaked more havoc on white communities than on communities of color. The answer, at least in part, appears to lie in unconscious physician biases about race, ethnicity and pain that more typically leave minority patients underserved and undermedicated, authors of the new study said.

Mary Louise Kelly, NPR, February 11
The debate in Virginia is only one episode in a long history of racism in medicine. Many African-Americans may feel distrustful of physicians, stemming in part from the legacy of the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment. This distrust has repercussions for the health of black people in America today, who may be less likely to stick with treatments or participate in medical research.