MINORITY CARE: Study Finds Differences In Women’s Post- Menopausal Care
A number of significant differences exist in the health care that women of different ethnicities receive in California, according to a survey released today. Conducted by the Field Institute in collaboration with the California Center for Health Improvement, the survey found that Latina women aged 40-64 were less likely to have a regular health care provider or OB/GYN than other California women. In addition, more Latinas said they were in fair or poor shape than other California women. The survey found that African American and Asian women were more reluctant to take hormone replacement supplements than other groups of women. "There are several important messages for health care providers and health plans," said CCHI President and CEO Karen Bodenhorn. "First and foremost, interventions to assist women in implementing self-care strategies to improve their health and well-being as they age must be discussed in a culturally- sensitive and practical manner," she said.
The survey found that 20% of Latina women aged 40-64 said they were not seeing a physician for their health care needs, compared to 13% of African Americans, 10% of whites and 5% of Asians who said the same. Of those who do receive care from physicians, only 23% of Latinas said they had OB/GYNs, versus 60% of Asians, 45% of whites and 44% of African Americans. The survey also investigated California women's use of hormone replacement therapy, which is prescribed to prevent osteoporosis and reduce the symptoms of menopause. While approximately half of Latinas and white women reported using the therapy within the past two years, only 33% of Asian and 30% African American women reported having done so. In addition, the survey found that women of different ethnic backgrounds reported using different sources to obtain health care information. Half of Asian and white women and 40% of African American women use magazines and newspapers, but 38% of Latina women rely on broadcast media for health information. Ethnic differences also emerged in levels of routine health screening -- Latinas were about half as likely than other women to have received a blood pressure test within the last two years. For women of all ethnic backgrounds, however, only one in ten reported receiving a bone density test for osteoporosis in the past two years. Bodenhorn said, "Women experience menopause differently. Yet few data are available to explain fully the forces accounting for these differences. More research to address social, lifestyle, medical and pharmaceutical issues must be supported" (CCHI release, 10/21).
Currently, nearly 40 million American women are experiencing menopause, and as the baby boomers age, that number will likely rise to 60 million. Lead author Deborah Kelch writes that the survey "confirms the willingness of women in this age group to put preventive strategies into effect." But as the number of menopausal women increases, she notes that "the healthcare system, health research and health practitioners need to 'catch up' with today's active women -- and the generations following them -- by developing, implementing and more effectively communicating prevention and treatment strategies which will help women age well" (report text, 10/20). For copies of the report, call CCHI at 916/658-0144, or visit its website at www.cchi.org.