Community Health Centers and racial/ethnic disparities in healthy life

Int J Health Serv. 2001;31(3):567-82. doi: 10.2190/QHGC-YVML-7GMK-77C1.


This study examined disparities in health status among individuals of different racial and ethnic groups cared for by the nation's community health centers (CHCs) and compared these results with the findings for individuals using non-CHC sites as their usual source of care. The sample consisted of CHC users from the 1994 CHC User Survey and non-CHC users from the 1994 National Health Interview Survey. Bivariate comparisons were made between individuals' race/ethnicity and their experience of healthy life, an integrated measure that incorporates both activity limitation and self-perceived health status. Multiple regressions were followed to examine the independent association of race/ethnicity with healthy life experience for both CHC and non-CHC users while controlling for sociodemographic correlates of health. Among CHC users, racial and ethnic minorities did not have worse health than whites, but among non-CHC users there were significant racial and ethnic disparities: whites experienced significantly healthier life than both blacks and non-white Hispanics. These findings persisted after controlling for sociodemographic correlates of health. The results indicate that while racial/ethnic disparities in health persist nationally, these disparities do not exist within CHCs, safety-net providers with an explicit mission to serve vulnerable populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Community Health Centers / organization & administration
  • Community Health Centers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Organizational Objectives
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • United States / epidemiology