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Am J Public Health. 2010 Jan;100(1):18-23. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.138826. Epub 2010 Jan.

Role of acculturation research in advancing science and practice in reducing health care disparities among Latinos.

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  • 1Department of Women's Studies and the Consortium on Race, Gender and Ethnicity, University of Maryland, 2101 Woods Hall, College Park, MD 20742, USA.


An impressive body of public health knowledge on health care disparities among Latinos has been produced. However, inconclusive and conflicting results on predictors of health care disparities remain. We examined the theoretical assumptions and methodological limitations of acculturation research in understanding Latino health care disparities, the evidence for socioeconomic position as a predictor of health care disparities, and the effectiveness of cultural competency practice. Persistent use of culture-driven acculturation models decenters social determinants of health as key factors in health disparities and diminishes the effectiveness of cultural competency practice. Social and economic determinants are more important predictors than is culture in understanding health care disparities. Improvements in the material conditions of low-income Latinos can effectively reduce health care disparities.

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