Cultural Bias Emerges in Reported Access to Health Care: Commonly Used Measure May Be Inappropriate for Non-English-Speaking Hispanics

Vol. IV, No. 4
July 1, 2001

Although Hispanics generally receive less than average medical care, they commonly underreport barriers to needed care. Researchers at the Center for Health Affairs at Project HOPE found this contradictory reporting may demonstrate inadequacies in the measure being used for this population. The commonly used difficulty-in-obtaining-needed-care measuremay be inappropriate for non-English-speaking Hispanics due to a cultural bias in how this population reports access to care. Specifically, many of them do not interpret “need” in the same way as non-Hispanic whites. Claudia Schur, Ph.D., along with colleagues Jacob Feldman, Ph.D., and Marc Berk, Ph.D., found that when interviewed in Spanish, Hispanics were more likely to report fair or poor health than Hispanics interviewed in English. Non-Englishspeaking Hispanics, however, were less likely to report barriers to health care.