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J Gen Intern Med. 2002 Jun;17(6):458-64.

Influence of usual source of care on differences by race/ethnicity in receipt of preventive services.

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  • 1Departments of Social Medicine and Internal Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7240, USA.



We examined the relation between race/ethnicity and receipt of preventive services and the effect of having a usual source of care (USOC) on receipt of preventive services in different racial and ethnic groups.


We analyzed data from adults, aged 18 to 64 years in the Household Component of the 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a nationally representative survey of health care use for the United States.


The proportion of adults who received age-appropriate preventive services.


Compared to white respondents, Hispanics were less likely to receive breast exams and blood pressure and cholesterol screening than were white respondents, and blacks were more likely to report receiving a Pap smear. Despite being less likely to report having a USOC, black and Hispanic women were as likely or more likely to report receiving breast and cervical cancer screening, after controlling for having a USOC and other factors. Hispanics reported receiving blood pressure screening less often, and blacks reported receiving more cholesterol screening. For each race/ethnicity group, having a USOC was associated with receiving preventive services. However, controlling for USOC and other confounders attenuated, but did not eliminate, differences by race/ethnicity.


The differences by race in receipt of preventive services suggest the need for different starting points for devising strategies to address racial differences in disease outcomes. While having a USOC will be important in narrowing the differences by race in receipt of preventive services, attending to other factors that contribute to disparities in health will also be essential.

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