Residential segregation and disparities in health care services utilization

Med Care Res Rev. 2012 Apr;69(2):158-75. doi: 10.1177/1077558711420263. Epub 2011 Oct 4.


Using data from the 2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and the 2000 Census, the authors explored whether race/ethnic disparities in health care use were associated with residential segregation. They used five measures of health care use: office-based physician visits, outpatient department physician visits, visits to nurses and physician's assistants, visits to other health professionals, and having a usual source of care. For each individual, the authors controlled for age, gender, marital status, insurance status, income, educational attainment, employment status, region, and health status. The authors used the racial-ethnic composition of the zip code to control for residential segregation. The findings suggest that disparities in health care utilization are related to both individuals' racial and ethnic identity and the racial and ethnic composition of their communities. Therefore, efforts to improve access to health care services and to eliminate health care disparities for African Americans and Hispanics should not only focus on individual-level factors but also include community-level factors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Confidence Intervals
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Minority Health
  • Prejudice*
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • United States