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Latinos rely on media, social networks for health care information

Posted by Elena del Valle on August 21, 2008



Latinos health care access and health care information access differs in some ways from the general population. Although many Latinos lack health care providers and have had limited access to health care information in the past year; more than eight in ten respondents to a recent telephone survey rely on media and other sources for health care information, according to a Pew Hispanic Center report released earlier this month.

Latinos rely heavily on the health care information they access through media sources and 79 percent of respondents said they act on this information. This indicates media and social networks are powerful resources to reach America’s Latino population.

Although many Latinos (71 percent) said they received information from a doctor in the past year, an equal proportion indicated their source of health information was social networks such as family, friends, church groups and community groups. And 83 percent said they obtained health information from the media, especially television.

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The researchers concluded that Hispanic men, youth and the less educated were the least likely to have a regular health care provider. This is similar to the demographic pattern present among non Hispanic whites who also lack a health care provider. Spanish dominant, less acculturated Latinos who have been in the United States a short time or are foreign citizens are more likely to report a lack of health care access.

At the same time, many Latinos who responded to the survey saying they have no regular place they visit for medical care are high school graduates (50 percent), United States born (30 percent) and have health insurance (45 percent). Many indicated they don’t have a health care provider because they are rarely ill.

The report, based on a nationally representative bilingual telephone survey of 4,013 Hispanic adults, was conducted between July 16, 2007 and September 23, 2007. It was written by Gretchen Livingston, senior researcher, and Susan Minushkin, deputy director, of the Pew Hispanic Center, and D’Vera Cohn, senior writer, Pew Research Center. They also examined Latino knowledge of diabetes issues and conducted the report in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Pew Hispanic Center, an initiative of the Pew Research Center, is a non-partisan, non-advocacy research organization based in Washington, D.C. The Pew Hispanic Center is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

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