Research Hypothesis It was hypothesized that less acculturated Latinos would report: 1) less discrimination in health care treatment; 2) a lower quality of health care treatment; 3) less confidence filling out health related forms; and 4) greater challenges understanding written information about their medical conditions.
Methods Data for this study were drawn from the 2007 Pew Hispanic Center survey of a disproportionate stratified RDD nationally representative sample of 4,013 Latino adults living in the U.S. The sample consisted of 2,783 (69.5%) foreign born Latinos, 1,120 (30.5%) U.S. born Latinos; 2,016 (50.2%) males, 1997 (49.8%) females; mean age was 43; over 68% of the participants had a high school diploma/GED or lower; and the mean annual income was almost $40,000. Multivariate OLS linear regressions examined the relationship between acculturation (controlling for gender, age, level of education, income, immigrant status, and years in the U.S.) and the dependent variables.
Results The results of this study indicated that participants who had lower levels of acculturation perceived: 1) greater discrimination in health care treatment; 2) a lower quality of health care treatment; 3) less confidence filling out health related forms; and 4) greater challenges understanding written information about their medical conditions. Contrary to previous studies that found more acculturated Latinos reporting higher rates of discrimination (Perez et al., 2008), the results of this study found that Latinos with lower levels of acculturation perceived more discrimination in the health care settings.
Conclusion & Implications With the growing Latino population in the U.S., it is imperative that health care providers understand issues facing less acculturated Latinos. The use of professional interpreters has been found to improve the quality of health care, and has resulted in higher patient satisfaction, and improved clinical outcomes (Karliner et al., 2001). It is therefore important that social workers in hospitals and community health centers advocate for the use of professional interpreters in order to improve the quality of health care treatment and the access to understandable health information for Latinos. Social workers are trained to work with diverse populations, but physicians and other health care professionals may not have the same experience. Therefore, social workers in hospitals and other health care settings can help develop and facilitate trainings that improve the cultural competency of health care providers and disseminate health information to underserved Latinos.