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Considering ancestral diversity in research

The detail of ancestry, not just cultural background, is an important factor to consider in medical research, practice, and education.

Ethnicity is frequently considered in terms of the primary cultural identity of the client, patient, or research participant. One study, conducted by researchers from the School of Public Health at The University of Sydney, highlights the importance of considering more than just the primary cultural identity of individuals in your care. That is, the importance of considering genetic diversity and mixed ancestry, not just an individual’s primary cultural background.

In their recent study, Marked differences in cardiovascular risk profiles in middle-aged and older Chinese residents: Evidence from a large Australian cohort, Dr Melody Ding and colleagues demonstrated clear differences in cardiovascular risk between Chinese Australians with Chinese ancestry from both parents, Chinese Australians with Chinese ancestry from only one parent, and non-Chinese Australians. Their results are published here in the International Journal of Cardiology.

The 266,696 participants in the cardiovascular research were a part of the 45 and Up Study conducted by the Sax Institute. The sample included 3454 participants with Chinese ancestry from both parents, 1062 with Chinese ancestry from one parent, and 262,180 with non-Chinese ancestry.

Participants with Chinese ancestry from one parent were at a higher risk, and had a higher prevalence, of cardiovascular disease than participants with Chinese ancestry from both parents.

South Western Sydney Local Health District  provides health services to a diverse population of over 820,000 individuals living in seven local government areas from Wingecarribee to Bankstown. As much as 49% of this population speak a language other than English at home which makes south west Sydney one of the most culturally diverse regions in the country.

Research in South West Sydney has the potential to provide greater insight in to the cultural and genetic considerations of clinical practice, medical intervention, and public health initiatives. Furthermore, research involving culturally and linguistically-diverse groups is strongly supported by the South Western Sydney Local Health District Research and Ethics Office.

Read the original research article by Dr Ding and colleagues here.

Read further discussions with Dr Ding here.

Would you like to find South West Sydney researchers investigating cardiovascular medicine and disease? Go to our find a researcher page and search for ‘cardiovasular’.