Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

POPLHLTH 313 - Health in Asian Communities

15 Points

Semester 2



An overview of Asian health issues including the biological, ecological, cultural, economic, social and psychological factors that determine health for Asian New Zealanders. Current practice, policy development and research priorities for Asian communities are included.


Prerequisite: POPLHLTH 210

Course Outline

Asian people currently make up more than 11% of the New Zealand population, and this proportion is expected to increase to 16% by 2026. People classified as ‘Asian’ in New Zealand have diverse origins, age-sex compositions, languages, cultures and migration history, which could affect their health needs. This course is designed to help students understand major health problems and health services issues confronting Asian communities in New Zealand. It will examine inequalities in health between Asian ethnic groups, as well as between migrant and established Asian communities. The course will also examine theories and emerging frameworks that attempt to explain health and illness outcomes of Asian New Zealanders, and discuss possible strategies and policies to improve health outcomes.

Key Course Objectives

By the conclusion of the course, each participant will be expected to:

  • Understand Asian people’s immigration to New Zealand and their settlement patterns and trends
  • Understand key health issues affecting different Asian population sub-groups
  • Understand key barriers currently faced by Asian people in accessing health care
  • Understand the concepts of acculturation, healthy immigrant effect, transnationalism and cultural competency
  • Critically review policies that may shape the health outcomes of Asian people and their incorporation into New Zealand society
  • Identify and discuss areas for future research in Asian health

The student will also be expected to have acquired skills in: 

  • Analysing census data and other information to identify demographic, linguistic and cultural diversity within Asian communities
  • Assessing the usefulness of health needs assessments to identify distinct health needs of different Asian sub-groups
  • Applying main theories underlying the study of the relationship between migration and health to understand current health issues experienced by Asian people in New Zealand

At the conclusion of the course the student should have an appreciation of:

  • The Asian cultural values, beliefs and practices that contribute to Asian people’s health outcomes
  • The strategies and policies to improving Asian health outcomes and reducing inequalities

Course Structure

The course has two one-hour lectures and one one-hour tutorial each week.

Lecture Schedule

The content of the lectures is organised into 6 modules. Each module will consist of 4 lectures. 




Module 1:

Course introduction & overview


Who is ‘Asian’?


Changing profiles of Asians in NZ


Health status & health service use


Health needs assessment of Asian people   

Module 2:

Migration, challenges and opportunities


Acculturation and settlement issues 


Healthy immigrant effect


Asian cultures and health beliefs   


Transnational migration & family resilience 

Module 3:

Strategies & policies to improve health outcomes


Asian, Migrant & Refugee Health Action Plan


Asian health support services  


Plunket Asian Strategy


Settlement and family wellbeing

Module 4:

Major health issues


Dietary practices & physical activity


Problem gambling


Mental health and addiction 

Module 5:

Health care needs of selected population groups 


Immigrant parents and children


Older people


Disability and CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) families



Module 6:

Challenges & future opportunities


Future research priorities


Panel discussion: Non-clinical health careers  


Revision, synthesis & student feedback

Tutorial Schedule




Reflections on ethnicity & cultural values 


Methods 1: Demographic characteristics of Asian ethnic groups  


Methods 2: Health needs assessment  


Introduction to Course Essay: Doing a literature review


Methods 3: Research policies and practices on a health issue


Methods 4: Asian healing practices  


Racism and health 


Dietary acculturation


Case discussion: challenges faced by immigrant families


Cultural competency issues


Reflections on health issues in Asian countries  


Revision & preparation for final exam

Course Assessment

  • 4 Methods Tutorials     20%

  • Course essay              30%

  • Final examination        50%

Recommended readings and resources

There are no prescribed publications for this course. However a list of recommended readings is given for each module. 

The internet provides easy access to a range of important databases, information and publications. 

Course Director