STUDY FINDS THAT MEXICAN-AMERICAN CHILDREN RECEIVE POOR ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE

October 4, 2004

According to a study of approximately 6,000 parents, Mexican-American children experience more problems obtaining health services than non-Hispanic whites. The study was published in this monthâ??s Medical Care, a top journal in health management and policy.

Researchers from the University of North Texas Health Science Center and Texas Tech Health Science Center found that Mexican-American parents have greater difficulty obtaining routine and urgent medical care for their children and have longer clinic waiting times when taking them to the doctor than non-Hispanic white parents. The researchers also found that children whose parents have lower incomes and children without health insurance experience greater problems obtaining health services.

The study was conducted using a random sample of approximately 6,000 parents residing in West Texas.

â??The health care system is not really meeting the needs of Hispanic children or their parents in a timely manner,â? said Ty Borders, PhD, associate professor at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, School of Public Health and lead author of the study. â??The findings are pretty straightforward.â?According to Dr. Borders, although the study was conducted in the western region of Texas, the findings can be applied to other parts of Texas and the nation where large Hispanic populations currently live.

â??Health policy makers should consider means of improving childrenâ??s access to needed medical care, such as further expanding the state child insurance program,â? Dr. Borders said. â??In addition, practicing physicians may need to offer more consumer friendly services to Mexican-American parents to make it easier for their children to obtain care.â?

Dr. Borders and his colleagues analyzed data collected as part of a randomly sampled group of 5,941 households in West Texas, which makes the study one of the largest studies ever conducted in the United States, using data collected on children. A questionnaire was administered using a telephone survey. The sample was taken from the geographical area covering 111 counties in West Texas, an area that spanned from the US/Mexico border on the west to approximately the center of the state on the east. The survey questionnaire response rate was 52.4%. The study, which was funded by the Centers for Disease Control, included additional questions about diabetes and other health issues.

The article is titled â??Parentsâ?? Reports of Childrenâ??s Medical Care Access: Are There Mexican-American Versus Non-Hispanic White Disparities?â? from Medical Careâ??s September 2004 issue, pages 884-892. Authors of the article are Tyrone F. Borders, PhD; Angelique Brannon-Goedeke, MS; Ahmed Arif, MD, PhD; and Tom Ke Xu, PhD. The full text of the article may be obtained at http://www.lww-medicalcare.com.

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Contact: Kay Colley, 817-735-2553, 817-980-5090 (cell)

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