Socioeconomic determinants of health and their impact on health care access for Hispanics: A descriptive literature review

Steven Kent Lawrence, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background: The Hispanic population continues to grow in the United States and is expected to reach 30% of the United States (US) population by 2050. 43% of this population is Spanish speaking (SS) at home and Spanish is the language of daily communication. Hispanics are more likely to be uninsured than other groups and suffer from disparities in chronic diseases affecting their health and disparities in access to health care. Both Hispanics and their provider doctors feel that they are not receiving or giving, respectively, the best medical care as compared to other groups and/or medical specialty doctors. Objectives: Identify the key health disparities SS Hispanics have, the social and economic determinants to these health disparities, the health care access the determinants are barriers to and propose solutions to the problems. Methods: A search of the Ovid Medline data base utilized appropriate and representative terms for: health knowledge/literacy and education, insurance status, employment status, immigration status, SES (socioeconomic status) and English as a second language (ESL)/Spanish speaking. All of the searches incorporated terms for Hispanic Americans as well as Hispanic Spanish speaking. Additionally, the bibliographies of articles were reviewed for relevant citations to investigate. Results: Low English proficiency (LEP) and lack of health insurance are the two most significant barriers to access to health for SS Hispanics and these are associated with disparities in the prevention, detection, treatment and control of the leading causes of mortality for SS Hispanics. Additionally, as individuals become culturally adapted, the culture adaption into the new culture is associated with poorer health status. Conclusion: The US health system needs to make adjustments to the health care system, modifications to behaviors and skills affecting the quality of treatment given to SS Hispanics and begin to reduce the disparities that impact this important and growing segment of the US population. The ongoing immigration reforms may provide an opportunity to make some of these modifications effectively.

Subject Area

Public health|Hispanic American studies|Health care management

Recommended Citation

Lawrence, Steven Kent, "Socioeconomic determinants of health and their impact on health care access for Hispanics: A descriptive literature review" (2013). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1564366.