Quarter of Latinos Get No Health Information From Medical Professionals, New Survey Finds

    • August 13, 2008

More than one in four Hispanic adults in the United States lack a usual health care provider and a similar proportion report obtaining no health care information from medical professionals in the past year, according to a report released today by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

At the same time, the report finds that more than eight in 10 receive health information from alternative sources, such as television and radio. This includes most of those who get no information from doctors or other medical professionals.

"Nearly as many Hispanics get health information from television as from doctors and medical professionals," said Susan Minushkin, Pew Hispanic Center deputy director and one of the report's authors. "What's more, Hispanics who don't have a usual health care provider are more likely to get health information from television than they are from medical professionals."

The report is based on a nationally representative bilingual survey of 4,013 Hispanic adults. It is unique in the breadth and depth at which it questions Hispanics on health care access and information issues. It also examines Hispanics' knowledge of diabetes— a serious chronic disease that is more prevalent among Hispanics than non-Hispanic whites. Unlike previous research, this survey examines how different subgroups within the U.S. Hispanic population access health services and information.

"When it comes to meeting the health needs of Hispanics in America, one size does not fit all," said Debra Joy Perez, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "National and community health experts need to factor in differences between subgroups, such as language spoken, assimilation and country of origin, and develop innovative solutions that meet the diverse needs of the Latino community."

Among its key findings:

  • As with the general population, Hispanics who are male, young, less educated and without health insurance are least likely to have a usual health care provider.
  • Foreign-born and less assimilated Latinos— those who mainly speak Spanish, lack U.S. citizenship, or have been in the United States for a short time—are less likely than other Latinos to report that they have a usual place to go for medical treatment or advice.
  • But a significant share of Hispanics with no usual place to go for medical care are high school graduates (50%), were born in the United States (30%) and have health insurance (45%).
  • When asked about why they lack a usual provider, a plurality of respondents (41%) say the principal reason is that they are seldom sick.

The report is available at the Pew Hispanic Center Web site and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Web site.


The Pew Hispanic Center is a nonpartisan research organization that seeks to improve understanding of the U.S. Hispanic population and to chronicle Latinos' growing impact on the nation. The Center does not take positions on policy issues. It is a project of the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan "fact tank" in Washington, D.C., that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world, and is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, a public charity based in Philadelphia.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.