Racial/Ethnic and Socioeconomic Disparities in Access to Care and Quality of Care for US Health Center Patients Compared With Non–Health Center Patients


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Abstract

This study aims to compare racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in access to care and quality of care for US health center patients and non–health center patients. Data for the study came from the 2002 Community Health Center User Survey and the 2003 National Healthcare Disparities Report. Descriptive analysis was performed using nationally representative survey data pertaining to access to care and quality of care for people of different races, ethnicities, incomes, and education levels. Results of the study show that health center patients experience fewer racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in access to care and quality of care, compared with non–health center patients nationally. Racial/ethnic disparities favoring whites occur in non–health center patients in every measure of quality and access included in this study. Conversely, there are few disparities favoring whites among health center users. Education and income-related disparities occur for several measures of access and quality in both health center and non–health center patients; however, the magnitude of these disparities is usually greater among non–health center patients compared with health center patients. In conclusion, health centers have been touted for cost-efficient, high-quality care. This study adds to growing evidence that health centers may also help eliminate racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in access to care and quality of care.

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