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J Urban Health. 2002 Dec;79(4):586-99.

Health care utilization among drug-using and non-drug-using women.

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  • 1Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


This article explores patterns of health care utilization among urban female illegal drug users and nonusers. Interviews were conducted between August 1997 and August 2000 in Atlanta, Georgia, among current drug-using and nonusing women aged 18 to 71 years (n = 235). Women were recruited using outreach and targeted sampling. Data were examined with multivariate and bivariate methods. Compared to nonusers, the most frequent users were significantly more likely to fail to seek needed health care (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 3.31, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.18, 9.29) and to use a hospital emergency room as their primary source for care (aOR = 6.04, 95% CI = 1.97, 18.56). Multivariate results also suggest that age, self-rated health, alcohol use, insurance coverage, financial strain, and the presence of minor children are associated with health service utilization. Future health policy and research among similar populations must continue to address individual and sociodemographic factors that influence service utilization and seek to incorporate preventive care for vulnerable populations within emergency room settings.

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