Understanding the chronic disease burden in ethnic minority populations: a plea for complexity
There is a high prevalence of chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus type 2 and cardiovascular disease among ethnic minorities in high-income societies. Important preventable risk factors for these diseases are health-related behaviours such as smoking, diet and physical activity. Hence, interventions to promote healthier behaviours are crucial to a reduction in these diseases. Often, however, health promoting interventions targeted to the general population have limited effects on health behaviour in ethnic minority populations. In this lecture I will argue that these interventions often fail because they are based on scientific evidence that does not take the complexity and dynamics of mechanisms underlying these behaviours into account. I will address the shortcomings of the available scientific evidence and explore the type of evidence that is imperative to facilitate the development of effective interventions in these populations.