Health-Related Quality of Life Among Mexican Americans Living in Colonias at the Texas-Mexico Border

A major challenge faced by public health is eliminating health disparities and increasing quality of life. Mexican Americans living in colonias along the Texas-Mexico border comprise one of the most disadvantaged and difficult to reach minority groups in the United States. This article examines health-related quality of life (HRQL) in Hispanics, specifically living in colonias. Colonias are settlements beyond the jurisdiction of cities where many live in trailers or self-constructed houses and lack basic services. Using data from the Integrated Health Research System Project (IHOS), a longitudinal project to help isolated colonia residents better understand physical and mental health issues. A household survey in 2002-2003 collected data from adults ages 18 years and older living in three separate colonia areas in Hidalgo County, resulting in a 368-person study.

Key Findings:

  • Compared to U.S. and Hispanic norms, participants reported worse health, similar mental health norms, which may be due, in part, to the immigrant community being younger.
  • Significant health status differences in physical and mental summary score existed between those living in the colonia less than three years versus those living there four or more years.
  • Eighty-one percent of respondents considered that access to health care service was a problem in their colonia.