Center for Latino Health Research Opportunities (CLaRO)

Dillon FR., Ertl, MM., Corp, DA., Babino, R., De La Rosa. (2018). Latina Young Adults’ Use of Health Care During Initial Months in the United States. Health Care Women Int, 39(3):343-359. DOI: 10.1080/07399332.2017.1388382

Latina/os are one of the most disadvantaged ethnic groups in the United States (US) in terms of health care access and utilization. Insufficient health care can place Latinas at great risk for several health conditions including HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and several types of cancers. This study examined social and cultural factors which could possibly influence health care utilization among Latina women ages 18 to 23 who had immigrated to the US. Factors investigated included traditional gender roles in Latino culture (marianismo), commitment to ethnic identity, attachment or separation from social networks, perceived health status, neighborhood collective efficacy, health insurance, socioeconomic status, education, employment, immigration status, and length of time in the United States. Of the 530 Latinas in the study, 36% utilized health care after immigrating to the US. Results revealed Latina young women differed in their utilization of health care depending on their endorsement of marianismo. Latinas who believed that women should be a source of strength in their families used health care nearly three times more often than women who did not hold these beliefs. Conversely, those who strongly believed that woman should silence themselves and respect the family structure were less likely to use care. Similarly, the belief that women should be the spiritual leaders of their families was related to a lower likelihood of using health care. Furthermore, Latinas who reported more social attachments, better health, greater neighborhood cohesion, and who possessed a job and health insurance were more likely to utilize health care.  These findings identify potential factors which influence health care utilization among young Latina women. Medical practitioners and researchers should consider traditional cultural gender role beliefs in this population. Future interventions should aim to increase social network attachment and neighborhood cohesion.