Academic Minute Podcast
Sunmin Lee, University of California Irvine – Sleep and Chronic Diseases
Sleep is important, even more so if you have other health conditions.
Dr. Sunmin Lee, PhD, ScD, is a Professor in the Department of Medicine, in the School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine. Dr. Lee is also a Co-Leader of Cancer Control Program, Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Lee is trained in social epidemiology. Her research focuses on reducing health disparities among minoritized and immigrant populations, especially among Asian Americans. She has incorporated both quantitative and qualitative research methods and has conducted both epidemiologic and intervention studies, to comprehensively examine the etiologies of health disparities and design, implement, and evaluate randomized controlled trials that are culturally and linguistically appropriate to reduce health disparities.
Dr. Lee received her doctoral degree in Social Epidemiology from Harvard School of Public Health, and completed her post-doctoral training at Channing Laboratory at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Lee currently serves as a standing member at the NIH’s Health Promotion in Communities study section.
Sleep and Chronic Diseases
Everyone knows sleep is vital for your health. However, how sleep affects those with chronic conditions has not been studied widely.
My team and I set out to study how sleep disturbance and sleep apnea affect Korean and Chinese Americans. Through our study, we analyzed sleep measure data from 400 Chinese and Korean Americans and their complex multimorbidity.
Multimorbidity is a word used to describe the onset of more than one chronic condition occurring at the same time. An example of this would be if a person had both diabetes and cancer. In general, someone with this condition would live an overall lower quality of life considering healthcare providers would have to treat different conditions.
However, we utilized a complex multimorbidity approach which categorizes diseases by the body system they affect rather than looking at the diseases individually. While this is a new and efficient approach, it has been used predominantly on White individuals and not communities of color.
This is why we decided to use Asian Americans for our study. Out of the 400 people we studied, we found that a large number of them had a significant association with having complex multimorbidity and sleep disturbance.
We found it particularly interesting to see that this was more pronounced among males compared to females, among Korean Americans compared to Chinese Americans, and those who have lived in the U.S. shorter than those who lived in the U.S. longer.
This information is critical to helping healthcare providers understand how to best treat this population and how to educate Asian Americans about the importance of sleep.
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