Health care utilization, family context, and adaptation among immigrants to the United States

J Health Soc Behav. 1994 Dec;35(4):370-84.


We use the 1990 National Health Interview Survey supplement on Family Resources to examine the health care utilization patterns of immigrant and native-born adults in the United States. We modify a standard health care utilization framework by including duration of residence in the United States and measures of immigrant adaptation and family health context to model both the probability and number of physician contacts in the previous year. We find that duration of residence has a strong effect. Recently-arrived immigrants are much less likely to have had a contact in the previous year and had fewer contacts than either native-born or longer-term immigrant adults. Once the measures of adaptation--age at immigration and language of survey interview--are included, immigrants who have been in the United States for 10 years or more are not statistically different from the native-born. Family characteristics, including measures of exposure to the formal health care system, slightly reduce the size of the effects but do not alter the basic relationship between duration of residence and health care utilization. These results suggest that, net of socioeconomic characteristics, access to health insurance, and differences in morbidity, recent immigrants are much less likely than both the native-born and those immigrants of longer duration, to receive timely health care.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Demography
  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data*
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Social Adjustment
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States