Factors Influencing Physician Assistant Students' Attitudes Toward Deservingness of Care for Undocumented Mexicans

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Abstract

Purpose

Attitudes regarding health-related deservingness of care for vulnerable patient populations can impact the quality of services provided. This study was aimed at identifying the influences that shape these attitudes among physician assistant (PA) students.

Methods

The study focused on PA students' perspectives toward care for a particularly vulnerable population, undocumented Mexican immigrants. An in-person survey was administered to first- and second-year PA students (n = 75). Multiple regression was used to assess whether familiarity, stereotyping, language skills, cultural preparedness, societal views, and background characteristics of PA students influenced attitudes toward deservingness of care.

Results

Results suggested that cultural preparedness among PA students was associated with positive views toward deservingness of both emergency services (β = 0.38, p < .001) and primary care (β = −0.211, p = .05) for undocumented Mexicans. Negative societal views toward this population predicted an unwillingness to endorse emergency care (β = −0.43, p < .001) and primary care (β = −0.45, p < .001).

Conclusions

Demographic projections indicate continued trends toward increasingly diverse patient populations, with dramatic growth among Hispanics. The findings of this study suggest that greater cultural preparedness is needed for future PAs. Furthermore, strategies for increasing PA students' self-awareness of how their broader societal views shape service delivery are warranted to ensure equitable care.

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