Number of Latino Doctors Not Keeping Up With Population Growth
The supply of Latino physicians in California and other states has not kept pace with the increasing growth of the Latino population in the U.S., according to a UCLA study published in the journal Academic Medicine, the Los Angeles Times reports (Brown, Los Angeles Times, 2/19).
Details of Study
The study analyzed 30 years' worth of U.S. census data to determine how the number of Latino physicians compared with the Latino and non-Hispanic white populations in the U.S., as well as in the five states with the largest Latino populations -- California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas (Sanchez et al., Academic Medicine, 1/27).
Overall, the study found that between 1980 and 2010, the number of U.S. residents who identified themselves as Latino or Hispanic increased by 243%, from less than 15 million to more than 51 million.
However, the rate of Latino doctors during the same time period fell from 135 Latino physicians per 100,000 individuals in the Latino population to 105 physicians per 100,000 individuals.
Meanwhile, California in 2010 had the lowest Latino physician-to-patient ratio among the five states with the largest Latino populations, at 50 Latino doctors per 100,000 Latino individuals.
According to the Times, some Latinos forego care when there are not enough Latino providers because they feel alienated by a health system that poses language and cultural barriers.
Study co-author Gloria Sanchez said that addressing the imbalance of Latino doctors and patients could help correct health disparities among the Latino population.
She said, "Latino physicians tend to be that bridge, this critical piece of health care communication" (Los Angeles Times, 2/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.