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An estimated 5.7 million American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN) live in the United States, but they are often underrepresented and even invisible in publicly-accessible health data and research, making it nearly impossible to know what services are needed to improve their health.
How does this happen? In most national population-based surveys, American Indians and Alaska Natives are often put in a residual “other” category or depicted as single-race non-Latinx AIANs, despite fewer than two in five AIANs reporting as single-race non-Latinx AIANs. Individuals who identify as AIAN are likely to also self-identify as another race, and drawing conclusions on data based on single-race AIANs fails to capture the considerable segment of the AIAN population that comprises individuals of more than one race. In addition, AIANs are more likely to identify with Latinx ethnicity than other racial groups, but most data systems report estimates only for nonLatinx AIANs.
This information is critical now more than ever as COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting AIAN populations across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AIANs have infection rates over 3.5 times higher than non-Hispanic whites; higher rates of chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity, as well as high uninsured rates.
Join the Fielding School's UCLA Center for Health Policy Research Senior Public Administration Analyst Tara Becker, PhD, and Senior Research Scientist Riti Shimkhada, PhD, as they share findings from their policy brief (co-authored by Susan H. Babey, PhD; AJ Scheitler, EdD; and Ninez Ponce, MPP, PhD) that examined AIAN data availability and the variations in estimates due to differences in AIAN coding and tabulating from eight large population health surveys. Becker and Shimkhada will discuss implications of the limited accessibility of AIAN information in population datasets.