Low Income Parents' Reports of Communication Problems with Health Care Providers

Effects of Language and Insurance

Researchers conducted an investigation of the relationship between sociodemographic characteristics and parents' reports of communication problems with health care providers. Data for the study came from the National Survey of America's Families (NSAF) during 1999 and 2002. The study sample consisted of 25,503 low-income children and a subgroup of 1,632 publicly insured children whose parents were interviewed in Spanish.

Key Findings:

  • Approximately 25 percent of low-income parents described their child's health care provider as “never” or “sometimes” listening to them and providing explanations that they were able to comprehend.
  • Approximately 36 percent of parents interviewed in Spanish reported unsatisfactory communication with health care providers.
  • A foreign-born parent interviewed in English had a 6.4 percentage point increase in likelihood of reporting inadequate communication with providers when compared with parents born in the United States. The probability of inadequate communication increased by 11.8 percentage points for foreign-born parents interviewed in Spanish as compared to the U.S. born counterparts.
  • Just over 60 percent of publicly insured children with parents interviewed in Spanish described using a clinic, health center, or hospital outpatient department for usual care. Parents of these children were 10 percentage points more likely to report inadequate communication as compared to those who had a private doctor.

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