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Asian Wellness Connection

Asian Wellness Connection (AWC), funded by United Way, is an innovative, community-based effort to improve health care quality and health care outcomes for Asians in the Portland Metropolitan area by combining the strengths of a culturally specific community-based organization, community health clinics, and a research institution to build on the integrated medical home model.

Asians face disparities in health care. Research suggests that, compared to other groups, Asians experience difficulty in accessing timely and needed health care, are more likely to lack a regular place of care, and are not as likely to use mental health services. In a 2007 United Way-funded community-based participatory research project, AHSC asked over 700 members of local Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese communities to identify the barriers to seeking needed health care. For Asians living with chronic disease, there exists no other program or clinic in the Portland area that delivers culturally and linguistically appropriate primary care and health education.

The systemic inability to meet the health care needs of Asians calls for focused action. A collaborative approach involving AHSC, Oregon Health and Science University’s Richmond Clinic, and Rosewood Family Health Center (RFHC) provide enhanced culturally competent and coordinated care, including wraparound social services and linguistically appropriate chronic disease education and support. The Asian Wellness Connection (AWC) pilot project allows partners to leverage each other as resources in order to better meet the comprehensive health needs of current Asian patients, while building inter-agency capacity to address the community’s needs over the long term. Portland State University’s Center for Health and Social Inequality Research (CHSIR) will evaluate the project and translate findings into a best practices model.

AWC makes progress toward the long-term goal of helping Asians improve and maintain their physical and mental health by 1) improving health care quality for Asians by increasing the cultural competence of clinical partners, promoting patient-centered and coordinated care, and providing wraparound social services; and 2) improving health care outcomes by providing chronic disease prevention and management education for members of the Asian community, as well as support for those living with chronic conditions and their families.

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