Background. Each year thousands of people participate in mass health screenings for diabetes and hypertension, but little is known about whether or not those who receive higher than normal screening results obtain the recommended follow-up medical care, or what barriers they perceive to doing so.
Methods. Study participants were recruited from attendees at three health fairs in low-income neighborhoods in Houston, Texas Potential participants had higher than normal blood pressure (> 90/140 mgHg) or blood glucose readings (100 mm/dL fasting or 140 mm/dL random). Study participants were called at one, two, and three months and asked if they had obtained follow-up medical care; those who had not yet obtained follow-up care were asked to identify barriers. Using a modified Aday-Andersen model of health service access, the independent variables were individual and community characteristics and self-perceived need. The dependent variable was obtaining follow-up care, with barriers to care a secondary outcome.
Results. Eighty-two study participants completed the initial questionnaire and 59 participants completed the study protocol. Forty-eight participants (59% under an intent to treat analysis, 81% of those completing the study protocol) obtained follow-up care. Those who completed the initial questionnaire and who reported a regular source of care were significantly more likely to obtain follow-up care. For those who completed the study protocol the relationship between having a regular source of care and obtaining follow-up care approached but did not reach significance. For those who completed the initial questionnaire, self-described health status, when examined as a binary variable (good, very good, excellent, or poor, fair, not sure) was associated with obtaining follow-up care for those who rated their health as poor, fair, or not sure. While the group who completed the study protocol did not reach statistical significance, the same relationship between self-described health status of poor, fair, or not sure and obtaining follow-up care was present. The participants who completed the study protocol and described their blood pressure as OK or a little high were statistically more likely to get follow-up care than those who described it as high or very high. All those on oral medications for hypertension (12/12) and diabetes (4/4) who were told to obtain follow-up care did so; however, the small sample size allows this correlation to be of statistical significance only for those treating hypertension.
The variables significantly associated with obtaining follow-up care were having a regular source of care, self-described health status of poor, fair, or not sure, self-described blood pressure of OK or a little high, and taking medication for blood pressure.
At the follow-up telephone calls, 34 participants identified barriers to care; cost was a significant barrier reported by 16 participants, and 10 reported that they didn’t have time because they were working long hours after Hurricane Ike.
The study included the offer of access assistance: information about nearby safety-net providers, a visit to or information from the Health Information Center at their Neighborhood Center location, or information from Project Safety Net (a searchable web site for safety net providers). Access assistance was offered at the health fairs and then again at follow-up telephone calls to those who had not yet obtained follow-up care. Of the 48 participants who reported obtaining follow-up care, 26 said they had made use of the access assistance to do so. The use of access assistance was associated with being Hispanic, not having health insurance or a regular source of care, and speaking Spanish. It was also associated with being worried about blood glucose.
Conclusion. Access assistance, as a community enabling characteristic, may be useful in aiding low-income people in obtaining medical care.
|Commitee:||Felknor, Sarah A., Franzini, Luisa, Greisinger, Anthony J., Mullen, Patricia D.|
|School:||The University of Texas School of Public Health|
|Department:||Policy & Community Health|
|School Location:||United States -- Texas|
|Source:||DAI-B 70/03, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Access to care, Community screening, Follow-up care, Health fairs, Screening|
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