Raising Low 'Patient Activation' Rates Among Hispanic Immigrants May Equal Expanded Coverage in Reducing Access Disparities

There is a growing consensus that activating consumers to become better managers of their health is an essential component of U.S. health care reform.

These researchers measured how activated Blacks, Whites and Hispanics are—that is, how confident, skillful, and knowledgeable they are, about taking an active role in improving their health and health care. The study found that patient activation among Blacks and Hispanics was low, relative to that of Whites. For example, 24.8 percent of Hispanics were at the highest level of patient activation, compared to 39.5 percent of Blacks and 45.3 percent of Whites. Among Hispanic immigrants, low acculturation and lack of familiarity with the U.S. health care system contribute to low activation.

The findings indicate that increasing activation levels among Hispanic immigrants may be as important as expanding insurance coverage in reducing disparities in unmet medical need.

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