Objective: We examined the relation between race/ethnicity and receipt of preventive services and the effect of having a usual source of care (USOC) on receipt of preventive services in different racial and ethnic groups.
Design/participants: We analyzed data from adults, aged 18 to 64 years in the Household Component of the 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a nationally representative survey of health care use for the United States.
Measurements: The proportion of adults who received age-appropriate preventive services.
Results: Compared to white respondents, Hispanics were less likely to receive breast exams and blood pressure and cholesterol screening than were white respondents, and blacks were more likely to report receiving a Pap smear. Despite being less likely to report having a USOC, black and Hispanic women were as likely or more likely to report receiving breast and cervical cancer screening, after controlling for having a USOC and other factors. Hispanics reported receiving blood pressure screening less often, and blacks reported receiving more cholesterol screening. For each race/ethnicity group, having a USOC was associated with receiving preventive services. However, controlling for USOC and other confounders attenuated, but did not eliminate, differences by race/ethnicity.
Conclusion: The differences by race in receipt of preventive services suggest the need for different starting points for devising strategies to address racial differences in disease outcomes. While having a USOC will be important in narrowing the differences by race in receipt of preventive services, attending to other factors that contribute to disparities in health will also be essential.