Obstacles predicting lack of a regular provider and delays in seeking care for patients at an urban public hospital

JAMA. 1994 Jun 22-29;271(24):1931-3.


Objective: To determine the correlation among obstacles to medical care, lack of a regular source of care, and delays in seeking care.

Design: Cross-sectional survey of patients presenting for ambulatory care during a 7-day period. Multiple logistic regression models were used to identify obstacles independently associated with outcome variables.

Setting: Urban public hospital.

Patients: A total of 3897 disadvantaged and predominantly minority patients.

Main outcome measures: Lack of a regular source of medical care and delay in seeking medical care for a new problem.

Results: The majority (61.6%) of patients reported no regular source of care. Of 2341 patients reporting a new medical problem, 48.4% waited more than 2 days before seeking medical care. No health insurance (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 2.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.89 to 2.61), no transportation (OR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.23 to 1.70), exposure to violence (OR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.08 to 1.45), and living in a supervised setting (OR, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.00 to 2.25) were independent predictors of lack of a regular source of care. No insurance (OR, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.51), no transportation (OR, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.19 to 1.77), and less than a high school education (OR, 1.22; 95% CI, 1.08 to 1.49) were independent predictors of delaying care for a new medical problem.

Conclusions: Obstacles in addition to lack of insurance impede provision of medical care to disadvantaged patients. The adoption of universal health care coverage alone will not guarantee access to appropriate medical care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Georgia
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospital Bed Capacity, 500 and over
  • Hospitals, Municipal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors