Watts, J., Cowden, J.D., Cupertino, A.P. et al. J Immigrant Minority Health (2011) 13: 526. doi:10.1007/s10903-010-9422-9
Racial, ethnic and language-based disparities occur throughout the US health system. Pediatric prehospital emergency medical services are less likely to be used by Latinos. We identified perceptions of and barriers to prehospital pediatric emergency care (911) access among Spanish-speaking parents. A qualitative study involving six focus groups was conducted. Spanish-speaking parents participated with a bilingual moderator. Topics discussed included experiences, knowledge, beliefs, fears, barriers, and improvement strategies. All groups were audiotaped, transcribed, and reviewed for recurring themes. Forty-nine parents participated. Though parents believed 911 was available to all, many were uncertain how to use it, and what qualified as an emergency. Barriers included language discordance, fear of exposing immigration status, and fear of financial consequences. Parents strongly desired to learn more about 911 through classes, brochures, and media campaigns. Prehospital emergency care should be available to all children. Further quantitative studies may help solidify the identified barriers and uncover areas needing improvement within Emergency Medical Systems. Addressing barriers to 911 use in Spanish-speaking communities could improve the equity of health care delivery, while also decreasing the amount of non-emergency 911 use.