Language preference as a predictor of access to and use of healthcare services among Hispanics in the United States

Ethn Dis. Winter 2008;18(1):93-7.


Objectives: The objective of this study was to determine if Spanish language preference was significantly associated with barriers to healthcare services among a nationally representative sample of Hispanic persons in the United States.

Design: Cross-sectional analysis of secondary data. Differences in outcomes between those responding in Spanish and those responding in English were tested using chi-square analyses and multiple logistic regression models.

Setting: Nationally representative sample of US adults responding to the 2005 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey.

Participants: Respondents identifying themselves as Hispanic (n = 20,400).

Main outcome measures: Four health care outcomes including health insurance coverage, having a personal health care provider, forgoing care because of cost, and having a routine check-up within the past five years.

Results: Those responding in Spanish were less likely to have healthcare coverage, less likely to have a personal healthcare provider, and less likely to have had a routine check-up within the past five years. No difference was found for indicating that cost was a barrier to receiving care in this model.

Conclusions: Disparities in healthcare access exist between Hispanic persons in the United States whose language preference is Spanish and those whose language preference is English. In an effort to achieve Healthy People 2010 goals and to provide care to all persons in the United States, barriers to care, such as language preference, should be addressed more fully in our healthcare system.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Hispanic Americans*
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • United States