Cause-of-death disparities in the African diaspora: exploring differences among shared-heritage populations.


OBJECTIVES: We investigated changes in life expectancy (LE) and cause-specific mortality over time, directly comparing African-descent populations in the United States and the Caribbean. METHODS: We compared LE at birth and cause-specific mortality in 6 disease groups between Caribbean countries with a majority (> 90%) African-descent population and US African Americans. RESULTS: The LE improvement among African Americans exceeded that of Afro-Caribbeans so that the LE gap, which favored the Caribbean population by 1.5 years in 1990, had been reversed by 2009. This relative improvement among African Americans was mainly the result of the improving mortality experience of African American men. Between 2000 and 2009, Caribbean mortality rates in 5 of the 6 disease groups increased relative to those of African Americans. By 2009, mortality from cerebrovascular diseases, cancers, and diabetes was higher in Afro-Caribbeans relative to African Americans, with a diabetes mortality rate twice that of African Americans and 4 times that of White Americans. CONCLUSIONS: The Caribbean community made important mortality reductions between 2000 and 2009, but this progress fell short of African American health improvements in the same period, especially among men.

American journal of public health