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J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2003 Feb;14(1):52-69.

Varieties of health services utilization by underserved Mexican American women.

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  • 1Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, USA.


Varieties of health services utilization by medically underserved patients were examined in 250 Mexican American women attending a primary care clinic in San Diego, California. Less than half (48.4 percent) of these medically underserved women had obtained clinical preventive services conforming to recommended guidelines, 34.4 percent reported having obtained an annual physical examination in the past year, and 66.0 percent reported visiting a doctor only when they were sick. Lack of any form of health insurance, including Medi-Cal, was associated with underutilization of primary care services to a greater degree than the other variables examined. However, other factors such as full-time employment, low education, dissatisfaction with primary care delivery, and cultural preference for traditional ethnomedical alternative forms of health care, constitute important barriers to utilization of primary care services. Efforts to provide health care to the medically underserved must take these barriers into consideration if they are to be successful.

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