Young Latinos living in rural areas say they face discrimination when they obtain health care services – a factor that could contribute to disparities in their rates for obtaining medical care and in their health outcomes, a new study from Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences has found.
[Photo: Dr. S. Marie Harvey]
Perceived discrimination is considered a barrier to obtaining health care services for underrepresented populations, including Latinos, according to lead researcher Dr. Daniel López-Cevallos, associate director of research for the Center for Latino/a Studies and Engagement at Oregon State.
The findings were published recently in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. The research was co-authored by Dr. S. Marie Harvey, associate dean and professor at Oregon State. Harvey received funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support the study.
Researchers conducted interviews with 349 young adult Latinos, ages 18 to 25, living in rural Oregon. Nearly 40 percent of those interviewed said they had experienced health care discrimination, such as being prevented from accessing services; being hassled; or being made to feel inferior in some way.
“What matters is the perception,” Dr. Harvey said. “If a person is less likely to seek out services because of that perception, it needs to be addressed.”
Latinos are considered an underserved group because they are less likely to obtain regular health care services and have higher rates of chronic disease such as diabetes than the general population, leading to disparities in their overall health and well-being.
The researchers’ goal was to better understand the role perceived discrimination plays in Latinos’ access to and use of health care services. Much of the past research on discrimination in health care has focused on African-Americans and people living in urban settings. This study emphasizes the experience of Latinos living in rural areas, a trend emerging as Latino populations move to rural areas across the nation, Dr. Lopez-Cevallos said.
“We have a different population here, so we want to be able to address concerns in Oregon and other states with growing rural Latino communities,” he said.
Addressing health care barriers facing Latinos and other underrepresented groups is important because when health care issues go undiagnosed or untreated, health care costs tend to rise. Prevention, early diagnosis and disease management are critical components of health care reform under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Nearly 45 percent of foreign-born Latinos, reported discrimination, compared to about 32 percent of Latinos born in the U.S. Researchers did not ask participants in the study about their immigration status.
Read more: http://synergies.oregonstate.edu/2015/young-latinos-experience-discrimination-when-obtaining-health-care-research-shows/