The increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases remains an important source of concern in the Caribbean and Latin American regions. This study examines rates and the associated socio-demographic correlates of physical health indicators in Jamaica and Guyana. Area probability cross-sectional data were collected on 1,218 Jamaicans and 2,068 Guyanese participants in 2005. Physician- diagnosed hypertension, diabetes mellitus, arthritis, and self-rated oral and general physical health were assessed using descriptive statistics, chi-square, and hierarchical logistic regression analytic procedures. Jamaicans generally reported poorer physical health, including diabetes mellitus, arthritis, and overall perceived oral and physical health compared to Guyanese; Guyanese reported higher rates of hypertension. Generally, lower social and economic standing was associated with poorer health conditions but made different contributions across countries. The study highlights the need for greater awareness and access to health care services for individuals who are especially vulnerable to poorer health. The results of this study suggest the need for additional studies on factors associated with physical health conditions, including a better understanding of the role of race/ethnicity in the Caribbean.
Key words: prevalence, physical health, Guyana, Jamaica.
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