Role of acculturation research in advancing science and practice in reducing health care disparities among Latinos

Am J Public Health. 2010 Jan;100(1):18-23. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.138826.


An impressive body of public health knowledge on health care disparities among Latinos has been produced. However, inconclusive and conflicting results on predictors of health care disparities remain. We examined the theoretical assumptions and methodological limitations of acculturation research in understanding Latino health care disparities, the evidence for socioeconomic position as a predictor of health care disparities, and the effectiveness of cultural competency practice. Persistent use of culture-driven acculturation models decenters social determinants of health as key factors in health disparities and diminishes the effectiveness of cultural competency practice. Social and economic determinants are more important predictors than is culture in understanding health care disparities. Improvements in the material conditions of low-income Latinos can effectively reduce health care disparities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Culture
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Research / methods*
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Hispanic Americans* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States