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J Immigr Minor Health. 2011 Apr;13(2):260-7. doi: 10.1007/s10903-010-9425-6.

English language proficiency and geographical proximity to a safety net clinic as a predictor of health care access.

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  • 1The Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, 90073, USA. kcordasco@mednet.ucla.edu

Abstract

Studies suggest that proximity to a safety net clinic (SNC) promotes access to care among the uninsured. Distance-based barriers to care may be greater for people with limited English proficiency (LEP), compared to those who are English proficient (EP), but this has not been explored. We assessed the relationship between distance to the nearest SNC and access in non-rural uninsured adults in California, and examined whether this relationship differs by language proficiency. Using the 2005 California Health Interview Survey and a list we compiled of California's SNCs, we calculated distance between uninsured interviewee residence and the exact address of the nearest SNC. Using multivariate regression to adjust for other relevant characteristics, we examined associations between this distance and interviewee's probability of having a usual source of health care (USOC) and having visited a physician in the prior 12 months. To examine differences by language proficiency, we included interactions between distance and language proficiency. Uninsured LEP adults living within 2 miles of a SNC were 9.3% less likely than their EP counterparts to have a USOC (P = 0.046). Further, distance to the nearest SNC was inversely associated with the probability of having a USOC among LEP, but not among EP; consequently, the difference between LEP and EP in the probability of having a USOC widened with increasing distance to the nearest SNC. There was no difference between LEP and EP adults living within 2 miles of a SNC in likelihood of having a physician visit; however, as with USOC, distance to the nearest SNC was inversely associated with the probability of having a physician visit among LEP but not EP. The effect sizes diminished, but remained significant, when we included county fixed effects in the models. Having LEP is a barrier to health care access, which compounds when combined with increased distance to the nearest SNC, among uninsured adults. Future studies should explore potential mechanisms so that appropriate interventions can be implemented.

PMID:
21170588
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3056133
Free PMC Article
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