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Health and Safety of Limited English Speaking Asian Homecare Aides in Chicago

A Pilot Study

Zhang, Jing, PhD; Buchanan, Susan N., MD; Rospenda, Kathleen M., PhD; Zanoni, Joseph, PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2019 - Volume 61 - Issue 1 - p 81–88
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001495

Objectives: To identify health and safety hazards and needs among limited English speaking Asian home care aides, and characterize their acculturation status and how it affects their health and safety.

Methods: Surveyed 60 home care aides and interviewed six home care service providers to assess health and safety hazards and needs of the study population.

Results: The majority of the study participants were older and did not speak English or did not speak English well. They communicated with senior clients in their native language only or most of the time. Many experienced work related injuries and musculoskeletal pain.

Discussion: The Asian homecare aides met the critical needs of an aging community. They experienced many challenges working as a home care aide and as a result of cultural barriers.

Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health (Dr Zhang, Dr Buchanan, Dr Zanoni); and College of Medicine (Dr Rospenda), University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

Address correspondence to: Jing Zhang, PhD, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1603 West Taylor Street, Chicago, IL 60612 (

Clinical Significance: Home care aide is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, but research is lacking on Asian home care aides, a uniquely vulnerable population. This study provides insight into their acculturation, work experience, health, and safety risks. It provides recommendations for interventions and future research needs.

Funding source: The study was a pilot project funded by National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (T42/HO008672).

The authors declare no conflicts of interests. The findings and conclusions in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the funder, the UIC, and the partner organizations.

Copyright © 2019 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine