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Authors

Brown

Abstract

Research and statistical reports of the 1960's strongly attested to the underutilization of the health care delivery system by members of ethnic minorities. For example, a 1968 national report on hospital utilization showed that a larger proportion of white persons was hospitalized than were persons of 'color.'I This was found to be true regardless of sex and age; but "... as family income increased, the rate for white persons and those of other races became closer." This fact not withstanding, each income level saw whites using hospitalization more than persons of 'color.' Reasons for this difference in utilization were offered by the authors of the above report: "It is ...not just the orientation of physicians nor the age and sex of a person that dictates whether he will be hospitalized. Of prime consideration is one's realization or knowledge of his own condition and his attitudes toward disease, illness, and the medical profession."

Although cultural factors were not offered as reasons for the difference in utilization, Suchman in his 1964 report on the Sociomedical Variations Among Ethnic Groups,4 interpreted his findings of underutilization to be the result of cultural factors that influenced attitudes toward illness and the medical profession. Although statistical reports and research of the 1960's indicated a lesser utilization of the health care system by members of ethnic minorities when compared to members of the compact majority, there was mention in the aforementioned 1968 statistical report of the increase in ethnic minorities utilization of hospitalization over that reported in 1965. This fact of an increase in utilization over a three year span suggested to this writer the possibility that there no longer would be found a significant difference in utilization over a 6 year span. This possibility became the impetus for a library search through research published in the 1970's on ethnic minorities' utilization of the health care delivery system.

The initial questions guiding the search were What is the pattern of utilization of the health care delivery system by members of ethnic minorities? Which variables seem to be associated with levels of utilization? The purpose of this paper is to explore answers to the above and related questions as they are found in research of the 1970's.

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