Latinos Face High Rates of Chronic Diseases, Barriers to Treatment
Many Latino residents in California and other states have chronic diseases but face barriers to receiving appropriate care for the conditions, according to a new study from the National Council of La Raza, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Details of Study
The study was produced in collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals and public health consulting firm John Snow (Abram, Los Angeles Daily News, 7/15).
Between June 2013 and August 2013, researchers surveyed more than 1,000 patients between the ages of 18 and 64 who self-identified as Latino or Hispanic. The patients were treated at eight organizations affiliated with NCLR, including four in California:
- AltaMed Health Services Corporation in Los Angeles;
- Clínicas de Salud del Pueblo in Brawley;
- Eastmont Community Center in Los Angeles; and
- San Ysidro Health Center in San Diego.
The survey was offered to participants in both English and Spanish.
Chronic Disease Findings
Overall, the study found that 60.5% of survey respondents had been diagnosed with a chronic disease. Specifically:
- 26.8% experienced hypertension;
- 26.2% experienced diabetes;
- 15.7% experienced some type of arthritis, gout, lupus or fibromyalgia; and
- 10.7% experienced a depressive disorder.
Further, the study found that 39% of respondents were obese and 36% were overweight. Of overweight and obese respondents, 64.3% reported that a physician had discussed weight issues with them. In addition, 55% of obese respondents and 67% of overweight respondents said their health was "excellent," "very good" or "good."
Findings on Chronic Disease Management
Of the respondents living with a chronic condition, the study found:
- 86% took medications for their condition;
- 63.6% did not have a written care management plan;
- 20.5% said they were not confident about managing their chronic condition;
- 17.4% had not had a physician explain care management to them; and
- 15% had not seen a physician during the past 12 months.
Meanwhile, 32% of respondents said they were unable to afford medications in the year preceding the survey.
Barriers to Access
The study found that the three most important factors that prevented participants from obtaining medical treatment were:
- Affordability, at 27%;
- Availability of appointments, at 25.1%; and
- Language barriers, at 16.6%.
According to the report, 68% of respondents had some form of health insurance and 32% said they did not. However, 18% of respondents who had coverage at the time of the survey said they had gone without insurance at some point in the previous 12 months. Individuals with chronic health conditions were more likely to have had coverage, according to the report.
The study concluded that:
- A high prevalence of chronic disease and multiple chronic diseases exists among Hispanic health facility users and is compounded by high rates of obesity;
- Reports of inadequate chronic disease management and lack of necessary support and resources by Hispanic health center users are frequent; and
- There are many obstacles to Hispanics receiving appropriate treatment and care, including costs, immigration status and language.
NCLR made several suggestions to address those issues, including:
- Enhancing linguistically and culturally appropriate peer support programs;
- Ensuring access to linguistically and culturally appropriate health education materials;
- Establishing coalitions to address barriers that Latinos face to managing chronic conditions;
- Increasing health care professionals' cultural competency training;
- Investing in community health centers and organizations;
- Launching a culturally competent and linguistically appropriate social marketing campaign related to obesity and chronic disease management that is targeted specifically toward the Latino community; and
- Supporting outreach and enrollment initiatives for health coverage, targeting Latinos (NCLR report, July 2014).