Puerto Ricans' Health Fares Worse Than Other U.S. Hispanics

For Release: February 25, 2000

Contact: NCHS/CDC Public Affairs (301) 458-4800

E-mail: paoquery@cdc.gov

Health Outcomes Among Hispanic Subgroups: Data from the National Health Interview Survey, 1992-95. Advance Data No. 310. 15. pp. (PHS) 2000-1250. pdf icon[PDF – 207 KB]

Puerto Rican persons in the mainland U.S. fare significantly worse than other U.S. Hispanics on a number of health indicators, according to a new report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The report, “Health Outcomes Among Hispanic Subgroups: Data from the National Health Interview Survey, 1992-95” looks at data from the National Health Interview Survey collected from 1992 through 1995 and focuses primarily on four groups: Mexican Americans, who make up 63 percent of the U.S. Hispanic population, Puerto Ricans, who make up 11 percent, Cuban Americans, who make up 4 percent, and “other Hispanic,” who constitute 22 percent of the population. The report found:

  • More than 1 in 5 Puerto Ricans reported an activity limitation, compared with about 15 percent of the Cuban and Mexican population.
  • Eighteen percent of Puerto Rican individuals reported being in fair or poor health, compared with 14 percent of Cubans and 12 percent of “other Hispanic” groups.
  • A larger percent (83 percent) of Puerto Ricans reported seeing a physician in the past year, compared with 69 percent of Mexican Americans, 77 percent of “other Hispanic,” and 78 percent of Cuban Americans. Conversely, 7 percent of Mexican persons, 4 percent of Cubans, and 3 percent of Puerto Ricans reported not having seen a doctor in the past 5 years or more, though it is not clear what role health insurance or access to health care played.
  • Puerto Rican persons reported more days spent in bed because of illness (10.4) than Mexican persons (8.0) and “other Hispanic” (7.2).
  • Cuban persons had fewer days lost from school or work (3.4) than Mexican persons (5.7), Puerto Rican persons (6.0), and “other Hispanic” (6.9).
  • Puerto Ricans had a higher percent of people with at least one hospital stay.
  • Although there was little overall difference between Hispanic subgroups regarding smoking status, more Puerto Rican women were current smokers (21 percent) than Cuban and Mexican American women (12 percent) and “other Hispanic” women (15 percent).
  • Cuban individuals reported a higher level of knowledge about AIDS than other Hispanic groups; 14 percent of Mexican Americans had no knowledge of AIDS at all, whereas almost half of Cubans reported at least some knowledge of AIDS.

“Health Outcomes Among Hispanic Subgroups: Data from the National Health Interview Survey, 1992-1995” can be downloaded directly from the NCHS Web site.


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