Adrian Matias Bacong, PhD, MPH is a postdoctoral research scholar with the Stanford University School of Medicine - Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and the Center for Asian Health Research and Education. His research explores the intersections of immigration and structural racism on health, specifically among Asian individuals. His work also examines health disparities by immigration/citizenship status and among racially minoritized individuals. His work has been published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, and Social Science and Medicine - Population Health. Dr. Bacong graduated with this PhD in Community Health Sciences from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health in 2022 and received his MPH in Health Promotion and Behavioral Science from the San Diego State University School of Public Health in 2016.
Doctor of Philosophy, University of California Los Angeles (2022)
Master of Public Health, San Diego State University (2016)
Bachelor of Science, University of California Los Angeles (2013)
Latha Palaniappan, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Immigrants and Immigration
Race and Ethnicity
Current Research and Scholarly Interests
Adrian M. Bacong, PhD, MPH is a social epidemiologist by training. His research seeks to identify social and structural factors that underlie health inequities by race, ethnicity, and immigration status. Specifically, his work has explored the role of socioeconomic factors in explaining health disparities by immigrant legal status and visa type. Furthermore, Adrian is interested in the effects of immigration on health. He received a NIH F31 award (1F31MD015931-01A1) to examine factors affecting the health of Filipino migrants to the U.S. compared to Filipinos remaining in the Philippines.
Adrian has also examined the intersections of race, ethnicity, and immigration status among older adults. Finally, Adrian written upon the role of data disaggregation as a method of public health critical race praxis. Currently, Adrian is researching the role of social and policy level factors underlying health disparities among immigrants.
Prevalence and risk factors of food insecurity among Californians during the COVID-19 pandemic: Disparities by immigration status and ethnicity.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated socioeconomic disparities in food insecurity. Non-citizens, who do not qualify for most publicly-funded food assistance programs, may be most vulnerable to food insecurity during the pandemic. However, no study has examined heterogeneity in food insecurity by immigration status and ethnicity in the context of the pandemic. We analyzed the 2020 non-restricted California Health Interview Survey to examine disparities in food insecurity by ethnicity and immigration status (i.e., US-born, naturalized, non-citizen) among Asians and Latinxs (N = 19,514) compared to US-born Whites. Weighted multivariable logistic regression analyses assessed the association of immigration status and ethnicity with food insecurity. Decomposition analyses assessed the extent to which pandemic-related economic stressors, including experiencing reduced work hours or losing a job versus pre-pandemic socioeconomic position (SEP), accounted for disparities in food insecurity by ethnicity and immigration status. Regardless of immigration status, Latinxs were more likely to experience food insecurity than Whites. Based on the adjusted analyses, non-citizen, naturalized, and US-born Latinxs had a predicted probability of 12%, 11.4%, and 11.9% of experiencing food insecurity, respectively. In contrast, non-citizen Asians, but not US-born or naturalized Asians, reported greater food insecurity than Whites (12.5% vs. 8.2%). SEP accounted for 43% to 66% of the relationship between immigration status-ethnicity and food insecurity. The pandemic exacerbated economic hardship, but food insecurity was largely explained by long-standing SEP-related factors among Latinxs, regardless of immigration status, and non-citizen Asians. To address disparities in food insecurity, social assistance programs and COVID-19 economic relief should be extended to non-citizens.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ypmed.2022.107268
View details for PubMedID 36150445
Immigration and the Life Course: Contextualizing and Understanding Healthcare Access and Health of Older Adult Immigrants
JOURNAL OF AGING AND HEALTH
Immigrant health discussions often focus on acculturation and omit discussions on historical events that may underlie health differences among immigrant older adults. This paper provides a historical overview of immigration policy and flows to the U.S. and examines insurance access and health difficulties by sending country.We analyzed the "Immigrants Admitted to the United States, Fiscal Years 1972-2000" and 2015-2019 American Community Survey datasets to examine the number of admitted immigrants, sociodemographic profiles for current immigrant older adults, and the predicted probabilities of health insurance access and health difficulties.Our results highlight alignment of immigration flows with immigration legislation and vast heterogeneity in migration, health, and healthcare access of immigrants by sending country.Public health practitioners must consider how historical events and social factors contribute to the healthcare access and health of immigrant populations, as demographic shifts will require interventions that promote equitable healthy aging.
View details for DOI 10.1177/08982643221104931
View details for Web of Science ID 000806882700001
View details for PubMedID 35641140
Health selection on self-rated health and the healthy migrant effect: Baseline and 1-year results from the health of Philippine Emigrants Study.
PLOS global public health
2022; 2 (7)
Studies of migration and health focus on a "healthy migrant effect" whereby migrants are healthier than individuals not migrating. Health selection remains the popular explanation of this phenomenon. However, studies are mixed on whether selection occurs and typically examine migrants post-departure. This study used a novel pre-migration dataset to identify which health and social domains differ between migrants and their non-migrant counterparts and their contribution to explaining variance in self-rated health by migrant status at pre-migration and 1-year later. Data were used from the baseline and 1-year follow-up of the Health of Philippine Emigrants Study (HoPES). We used multivariable ordinary least squares regression to examine differences in self-rated health between migrants to the U.S. and a comparable group of non-migrants at baseline (premigration) and one year later, accounting for seven domains: physical health, mental health, health behavior, demographics, socioeconomic factors and healthcare utilization, psychosocial factors, and social desirability. A migrant advantage was present for self-rated health at baseline and 1-year. Accounting for all domains, migrants reported better self-rated health compared to non-migrants both at baseline (beta = 0.32; 95% CI = 0.22, 0.43) and at 1-year (beta = 0.28; 95% CI = 0.10, 0.46). Migrant status, health behavior, and mental health accounted for most of the variance in self-rated health both at baseline and 1-year follow-up. This analysis provides evidence of migrant health selection and nuanced understanding to what is being captured by self-rated health in studies of migrant health that should be considered in future research.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgph.0000324
View details for PubMedID 36082314
Learning to love ourselves again: Organizing Filipinx/a/o scholar-activists as antiracist public health praxis.
Frontiers in public health
2022; 10: 958654
A critical component for health equity lies in the inclusion of structurally excluded voices, such as Filipina/x/o Americans (FilAms). Because filam invisibility is normalized, denaturalizing these conditions requires reimagining power relations regarding whose experiences are documented, whose perspectives are legitimized, and whose strategies are supported. in this community case study, we describe our efforts to organize a multidisciplinary, multigenerational, community-driven collaboration for FilAm community wellness. Catalyzed by the disproportionate burden of deaths among FilAm healthcare workers at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying silence from mainstream public health leaders, we formed the Filipinx/a/o Community Health Association (FilCHA). FilCHA is a counterspace where students, faculty, clinicians, and community leaders across the nation could collectively organize to resist our erasure. By building a virtual, intellectual community that centers our voices, FilCHA shifts power through partnerships in which people who directly experience the conditions that cause inequities have leadership roles and avenues to share their perspectives. We used Pinayism to guide our study of FilCHA, not just for the current crisis State-side, but through a multigenerational, transnational understanding of what knowledges have been taken from us and our ancestors. By naming our collective pain, building a counterspace for love of the community, and generating reflections for our communities, we work toward shared liberation. Harnessing the collective power of researchers as truth seekers and organizers as community builders in affirming spaces for holistic community wellbeing is love in action. This moment demands that we explicitly name love as essential to antiracist public health praxis.
View details for DOI 10.3389/fpubh.2022.958654
View details for PubMedID 36062092
Addressing The Interlocking Impact Of Colonialism And Racism On Filipinx/a/o American Health Inequities.
Health affairs (Project Hope)
2022; 41 (2): 289-295
Within the monolithic racial category of "Asian American," health determinants are often hidden within each subgroup's complex histories of indigeneity, colonialism, migration, culture, and socio-political systems. Although racism is typically framed to underscore the ways in which various institutions (for example, employment and education) disproportionately disadvantage Black/Latinx communities over White people, what does structural racism look like among Filipinx/a/o Americans (FilAms), the third-largest Asian American group in the US? We argue that racism defines who is visible. We discuss pathways through which colonialism and racism preserve inequities for FilAms, a large and overlooked Asian American subgroup. We bring to light historical and modern practices inhibiting progress toward dismantling systemic racial barriers that impinge on FilAm health. We encourage multilevel strategies that focus on and invest in FilAms, such as robust accounting of demographic data in heterogeneous populations, explicitly naming neocolonial forces that devalue and neglect FilAms, and structurally supporting community approaches to promote better self- and community care.
View details for DOI 10.1377/hlthaff.2021.01418
View details for PubMedID 35130069
The Impact of Structural Inequities on Older Asian Americans During COVID-19
FRONTIERS IN PUBLIC HEALTH
2021; 9: 690014
Structural racism manifests as an historical and continued invisibility of Asian Americans, whose experiences of disparities and diverse needs are omitted in research, data, and policy. During the pandemic, this invisibility intersects with rising anti-Asian violence and other persistent structural inequities that contribute to higher COVID-19 mortality in older Asian Americans compared to non-Hispanic whites. This perspective describes how structural inequities in social determinants of health-namely immigration, language and telehealth access, and economic conditions-lead to increased COVID-19 mortality and barriers to care among older Asian Americans. Specifically, we discuss how the historically racialized immigration system has patterned older Asian immigrant subpopulations into working in frontline essential occupations with high COVID-19 exposure. The threat of "public charge" rule has also prevented Asian immigrants from receiving eligible public assistance including COVID-19 testing and vaccination programs. We highlight the language diversity among older Asian Americans and how language access remains unaddressed in clinical and non-clinical services and creates barriers to routine and COVID-19 related care, particularly in geographic regions with small Asian American populations. We discuss the economic insecurity of older Asian immigrants and how co-residence in multigenerational homes has exposed them to greater risk of coronavirus transmission. Using an intersectionality-informed approach to address structural inequities, we recommend the disaggregation of racial/ethnic data, meaningful inclusion of older Asian Americans in research and policy, and equitable investment in community and multi-sectoral partnerships to improve health and wellbeing of older Asian Americans.
View details for DOI 10.3389/fpubh.2021.690014
View details for Web of Science ID 000693443200001
View details for PubMedID 34490181
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8417937
Selection, experience, and disadvantage: Examining sources of health inequalities among naturalized US citizens
2021; 15: 100895
We integrated major theories in immigrant health and assimilation into a single analytical framework to quantify the degrees to which demographic composition, pathways to citizenship, and socioeconomic assimilation account for physical and mental health disparities between naturalized immigrants by region of origin.Using the restricted data from the 2015-2016 California Health Interview Survey, we decomposed differences in physical and mental health into demographic factors, path to citizenship, and socioeconomic characteristics by region of origin using the Karlson, Holm, and Breen (KHB) method.Differences in socioeconomic status mediated most of the disparity in physical health between naturalized immigrants from different regions. Factors associated with major immigrant health theories-demographic composition, pathways to citizenship, and socioeconomic assimilation-did not mediate disparities in mental health.This article argues that the study of health disparities among immigrants must simultaneously account for differences in demographic composition, immigration experience, and socioeconomic disadvantage. The findings also underscore the need for theory development that can better explain mental health disparities among immigrants.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ssmph.2021.100895
View details for Web of Science ID 000697998100077
View details for PubMedID 34430702
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8368999
Heterogeneity in the Association of Citizenship Status on Self-Rated Health Among Asians in California.
Journal of immigrant and minority health
2021; 23 (1): 121-136
Citizenship is considered an egalitarian legal identity but may function differently among minorities because of racial/ethnic stratification and historical context. Using Asians, I examine whether the association between citizenship and self-rated health differs by ethnicity. I examine the moderating effect of Asian ethnic group (Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, and Other Asian) on citizenship and self-rated health using the 2012-2016 California Health Interview Survey (n = 11,084). Models account for demographics, socioeconomic status, healthcare, and English proficiency. Adjusting for demographics, naturalized citizens and non-citizens were statistically significantly more likely to report fair/poor health compared to U.S.-born citizens. Naturalized and non-citizen Vietnamese reported statistically significantly poorer health to all U.S.-born groups. These trends largely disappear when controlling for all covariates. Citizenship status can be useful in considering structural barriers for immigrants. Future work should interrogate the non-citizen category and why trends are seen among Vietnamese, but not others.
View details for DOI 10.1007/s10903-020-01039-w
View details for PubMedID 32578010
View details for PubMedCentralID 6546429
Disentangling contributions of demographic, family, and socioeconomic factors on associations of immigration status and health in the United States.
Journal of epidemiology and community health
In the United States, immigration policy is entwined with health policy, and immigrants' legal statuses determine their access to care. Yet, policy debates rarely take into account the health needs of immigrants and potential health consequences of linking legal status to healthcare. Confounding from social and demographic differences and lack of individual-level data with sensitive immigration variables present challenges in this area of research.This article used the restricted California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) to assess differences in self-rated health, obesity, and severe psychological distress. Between US-born citizens, naturalised citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPR), undocumented immigrants, and temporary visa holders living in California.Results show that while immigrant groups appear to have poorer health on the surface, these differences were explained predominantly by older age among naturalised citizens and by lower-income and education among LPRs and undocumented immigrants. Favourable family characteristics acted as protective factors for immigrants' health, especially among disadvantaged immigrants.Immigration policy that limits access to healthcare and family support may further widen the health disadvantage among immigrants with less legal protection.
View details for DOI 10.1136/jech-2020-214245
View details for PubMedID 33239346
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8144240
Epidemiologists Count: The Role of Diversity and Inclusion in the Field of Epidemiology.
American journal of epidemiology
2020; 189 (10): 1033-1036
We present interpretations of the idea that "epidemiologists count" in response to the current status of membership and diversity and inclusion efforts within the Society for Epidemiological Research (SER). We review whom epidemiologists count to describe the (mis)representation of SER membership and how categorizations of people reflect social constructions of identity and biases that exist in broader society. We argue that what epidemiologists count-how diversity and inclusion are operationalized-has real-world implications on institutional norms and how inclusive/non-inclusive environments are. Finally, we examine which epidemiologists count within the field and argue that inclusion can only be achieved when we address how resources and opportunities are distributed among epidemiologists. To improve diversity and inclusion within SER and beyond, we recommend that SER strengthen its commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity by: 1) integrating this priority on all agendas; 2) enhancing efforts to improve self-awareness among members and accountability within the organization; 3) supporting the growth of a diversifying workforce in epidemiology; and 4) increasing the visibility of health disparities research and researchers in epidemiology.
View details for DOI 10.1093/aje/kwaa108
View details for PubMedID 32602522
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7666407
Heterogeneity in Migrant Health Selection: The Role of Immigrant Visas.
Journal of health and social behavior
2020; 61 (3): 359-376
This study proposes that visa status is an important construct that is central to understanding how health selection occurs among immigrants. We used the 2017 baseline survey data of the Health of Philippine Emigrants Study (n = 1,632) to compare the health of nonmigrants remaining in the Philippines and migrants surveyed prior to migration to the United States. Furthermore, we compared migrant health by visa type: limited family reunification, unlimited family reunification, fiancé(e)/marriage, and employment. Migrants reported fewer health conditions than nonmigrants overall. However, health varied among migrants by visa type. Migrants with fiancé(e)/marriage visas were the healthiest, reporting significantly fewer health conditions than the other groups. Limited family reunification migrants reported more health conditions than nonmigrants and unlimited family reunification migrants. We discuss how the immigration visa process reflects broader forms of social and political stratification that cause heterogeneity in immigrant health selection.
View details for DOI 10.1177/0022146520942896
View details for PubMedID 32723093
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8105085