Investigators at the University of Maryland at College Park worked to improve Latino children's access to health services.
They reviewed the literature on Latino child health from 1970 to the present and compiled and synthesized data from the 10 states with the largest Latino child populations.
Then they convened an expert panel to which they presented their findings. The panel developed policy recommendations designed to improve the health of Latino children.
In an article published in the American Journal of Public Health (November 2000), the investigators reported the following findings.
- Latinos are more likely than African-Americans and non-Hispanic whites to report that they are unable to afford health insurance, more likely to work in sectors of the economy that do not provide health benefits, and less likely to utilize Medicaid and other public health benefits.
- Latino families are often unaware of available health services or fearful of providers, thereby putting their children at risk for health problems.
- Institutional barriers, such as negative attitudes on the part of providers, lack of translation services, and lengthy waiting times can reduce the likelihood that Latino parents will seek health care for their children.
- Researchers often do not capture the health status of Latinos most at risk, because they do not look at subgroups such as Mexican Americans or Mexican immigrants and because they conduct most surveys in English.
The article included the following policy recommendations.
- Decrease rates of poverty among Latino families by passing laws and setting policy that guarantee a minimum living wage, provide employment-linked health benefits, and increase access to adult education and literacy training.
- Expand funding of and eligibility for public health programs to include more Latino children and their families.
- Increase federal and state funding for research and targeted prevention and primary care programs for Latino children and families.
- Improve public health data systems by collecting minimal core information on racial/ethnic subgroups.
The principal investigator continues to work on projects designed to translate research findings into policies that will improve Latino child health.