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Health Care-Seeking among Latino

Immigrants: Blocked Access, Use of

Traditional Medicine, and the Role
of Religion
Jerry Aneke
Erich Bonilla
Stephanie Okolo
1. What is the epidemiological paradox that the article discussed?
2. What are the major health problems, that are need attention in the
Latino population?
3. Are Latinos more or less likely to have health insurance?

● Uninsured Latino immigrants have difficulty accessing health services

due to structural and belief barriers and may resort to cultural
alternatives and complementary alternative medicine (CAM).
● Latino immigrants report having fear and anxiety when seeking health
services stemming from immigration status and the treatment they
receive in hospital settings.
● This study explores how Latino immigrants navigate between
traditional and mainstream medical systems and how religion plays a
role in receiving health services.
Study Objective/Purpose

Purpose: To explore how Latino immigrants navigate between conventional

U.S. and traditional Latino medicine to treat illness and receive health care.
Research Question(s)

1. What do Latino immigrants perceive as barriers to health care in public facilities

such as county hospitals and clinics?
2. To what extent are Latino immigrants using cultural alternatives such as folk
healers, botanicas (herbal shops commonly found in Latino neighborhoods),
herbal remedies, an care in Mexico? How are these cultural alternatives
blended with Western health care-seeking?
3. How does religiosity play into health-seeking and health maintenance for
Latino immigrants? Several questions underlay this one: (a) is the church viewed
by immigrants as an aid, coach, or mediator for health access needs? (b)What is
the role of personal prayer and faith in health empowerment among Latino

No hypothesis was stated: “we were not hypothesis-testing or working with

a strictly deductive design”

Researchers focused on how Latino immigrants constructed their own

world of health care utilization and the resources available to them in their
Methodology/Study Design

Study design was qualitative

○ 1:1 interviews with open ended questions.
○ Conducted in both Spanish and English

Researchers main focus was gaining organic insight of the barriers Latino
immigrants face when seeking health care.


● 96 Latino immigrants (community

● 12 hometown association leaders
● 5 pastors and health outreach workers

Hometown association leaders from Mexico, El

Salvador, and Guatemala. Viewed as “key
informants”, identified in a previous study as highly
respected community leaders.

Community respondents were selected through

chance method encounters (e.g., those waiting at
transportation stops, random households and
Population/Sample (cont)

● No criteria was set for inclusion/exclusion of study subjects.

○ Sample size was limited due to this method because sample is not
proportionally representative of the Latino immigrant population of Los
Angeles County.
● The focus was on obtaining high-quality interviews with a cross-section of Latino
immigrants that were willing to share their experience.
● Participants drawn from neighborhoods known to have high proportions of
uninsured and undocumented respondents (Pico-Union area of Los Angeles).

● Small sample size.

○ The sample population did not accurately represent the Latino immigrant
population of Los Angeles.
● Possible reluctance from respondents: interviewer was a doctor-to-be and
respondents may have given biased responses in the direction of mainstream
● Immigration status from respondents was not fully disclosed.
● Geographic location-Pico Union is just a small portion of Greater Los Angeles
● Questions were open-ended and probing, possibly leading to biased responses.
Treatment Allocation

No treatment or intervention was

offered to participants of this study.

Respondents were selected through

chance methods of selection and may
not be familiar with the area and the
resources available.

No control group because there was no

experimental component or hypothesis
to test.

No follow up with respondents.

Outcome Measures
There were no control variables in this experiment.

● Independent Variables: Access to health care

● Dependent Variables: Immigration status, time in the country, perception of treatment

● Study participants mostly reported access barriers when
seeking health care (e.g., long wait times, expenses, and lack of
proper attention).
● Belief barriers include cost of care, fear of deportation, and
poor service in emergency rooms and county hospitals due to
lack of insurance.
● Use of cultural alternatives were utilized as a secondary or
coping method when faced with blocked access to health care.
● Personal/daily prayer vs organized religion (church
attendance) is fundamental to good health outcomes for Latino

The results answer the initial research questions that were posed,
however, since there were no reported values, statistical analysis, or
quantifiable data presented from the responses there is some
subjectivity to the results.
Study Discussion/Students’ Conclusions

What are the authors’ interpretation of results?

Neither cultural and structural barriers act independently to constrain

human action in health seeking. Rather cultural alternatives and structural
barriers interact; choices are available and strategies are worked out within
this interaction.
Study Discussion/Students’ Conclusions
1. Are the conclusions justified from the data?

Yes, the conclusion is justified from the data, in that individuals developed strategies that addressed their
concerns and their approaches to health care.

2. Do the authors compare results from the study to those of similar studies performed and/or existing
literature? What did they find?

The authors stated that their results agreed with Swidler’s essay on culture in action: “Culture influences
action not by providing the ultimate values towards which action is oriented, but by shaping a repertoire or
“tool kit” of habits, skills, and styles from which people construct “strategies of action.” Differs from recent
research that deals with acculturation as the major determinant of Latino health and unequal access.

3. Do the authors discuss limitations of their study?

The authors did discuss limitations, especially in regards to the diversity in the latino communities, and the
belief that if an individual identified as illegal immigrant they could expose themself to immigration
Follow-up questions

1. Why are Latinos disproportionately impacted with lack of insurance?

2. If the homogenous Latino population was seperated by country of origin,
would the results change?
3. How can we reduces some of the barriers identified by the study?

Ransford, H. E., Carrillo, F. R., & Rivera, Y. (2010). Health care-seeking

among Latino immigrants: blocked access, use of traditional medicine, and
the role of religion. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved,
21(3), 862–878. https://doi.org/10.1353/hpu.0.0348