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Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Health Care Access Are Associated with Adverse Childhood Experiences

Abstract

There is a growing body of research documenting racial/ethnic differences in the relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and negative health outcomes in adulthood. However, few studies have examined racial/ethnic differences in the association between ACEs and health care access. Cross-sectional data collected from South Carolina’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (2014–2016; n = 15,436) was used to examine associations among ACEs, race/ethnicity, and health care access among South Carolina adults. Specifically, logistic regression models were used to estimate the odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for three health care access outcomes: having a personal doctor, routine checkup in the last 2 years, and delay in seeking medical care due to cost. Without adjusting for any covariates, in the overall population, the odds of having no personal doctor, no checkup in the last 2 years, and delay in medical care due to cost was significantly higher among those with at least one ACE, compared with those with no ACEs; and health care access varied by race, with significant relationships detected among Whites and Blacks. Among White adults, the odds of having no checkup in the last 2 years and delay in medical care due to cost was significantly higher among those with at least one ACE, compared with those with no ACEs. Among Black adults, a delay in medical care due to cost was significantly higher among those who reported ACEs compared with their counterparts. The results from this study suggest that ACEs may be an underrecognized barrier to health care for adults. Investing in strategies to mitigate ACEs may help improve health care access among adults.

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Funding

This study was supported by the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation® (grant numbers 2014–16 and 2015–18).

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Correspondence to Aditi Srivastav.

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Srivastav, A., Richard, C.L., Kipp, C. et al. Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Health Care Access Are Associated with Adverse Childhood Experiences. J. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities 7, 1225–1233 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40615-020-00747-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40615-020-00747-1

Keywords

  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Health care access
  • Health disparities
  • Social determinants of health