American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Epidemiology Across Cultures

These fact sheets are intended to provide ASHA members with some data that may be relevant to working with their clientele. These numbers are not absolutes nor should they be used as part of a medical history. It is important to treat a patient/client as an individual rather than as part of a statistic.

What are these?

Extensive studies have been completed to examine the incidence and prevalence of language disorders across multicultural populations.

A series of fact sheets that contain statistics pertaining to health and education status across some of the racial and ethnic groups in the United States.

What sources were used?

There was no one study that could provide the incidence and prevalence of diagnosed medical disorders across all racial and ethnic groups. Therefore, a variety of resources were used, such as the American Heart Association, Healthy People 2010, and the National Center for Health Statistics. It is important to look at the data on each fact sheet as relevant for that particular racial and/or ethnic group. It would not necessarily be appropriate to compare a number on one fact sheet to a number on another fact sheet because the sources may vary.

What is the difference between incidence and prevalence?

You should avoid comparing the incidence (rate of occurrence or influence, for example 3 per 100,000) of the disease or disorder to the prevalence ( the percentage of a population that is affected with a particular disease at a given time) of the disease or disorder. For example, the prevalence of stroke in African American females is 3.2%, while the incidence of total stroke (per 1,000) in Japanese-American men is 2.4. These numbers are not comparable and do not provide the same type of information. For example, although it may be appropriate to conclude that if you work with adult patients/clients who are neurologically impaired; you may be more likely to work with African American females than Japanese-American males, there are many additional variables, such as regional and local demographics, that may impact these numbers.

What are additional resources?

Communication Facts: Special Populations: Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations presents the ways that culture and communication influence one another. Statistics were generated from the US Census Bureau and literature searches. General demographics are reported along with incidence reports among speech and language disorders, voice disorders and hearing disorders.

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