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Health Seeking Behaviors of African Americans: Implications for Health Administration

Author: BARBARA HEWINS-MARONEY, ALICE SCHUMAKER, and ETHEL WILLIAMS
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 28 No. 1

Disparities in health care and good health between African
Americans and other populations while established in the literature are
traditionally based on socioeconomic measures of race, income, age,
and education (Bailey, 2000; Lillie-Blanton, Brodie, Rowland, Altman
and McIntosh, 2000; Ren and Amick, 1996; Watson, 2001; Weinick,
Zuvekas, and Cohen, 2000). This study broadens the scope by
exploring how sociocultural (poverty, racism, prejudice, and
discrimination) and psychosocial factors (perceived health status, the
lack of personal efficacy in contributing to decisions about health care,
feelings of helplessness, and the lack of trust in the health care
providers) relate to health-seeking behaviors of African Americans
(Bailey, 1991; Ren and Amick, 1996, Watson, 2001). Interviews were
conducted with 111 African American adult patients at a community
health center, focusing on health-seeking behaviors, and sociocultural
and psychosocial factors. Results suggest that when these negative
factors are removed, the health seeking behaviors of African Americans
closely mirror the behaviors of the majority population. Subjects did
not view themselves in poorer health, fail to seek medical attention
when needed, or distrust their primary health care providers. In
general, fears associated with health care were attributed to illness
rather than health care providers, although a weak linkage was found
between patient self-esteem and fear or dislike of future treatment by
physicians (adj R2= .362, S.E. =15, F=21, sig. <.001). The study
highlights the need for further study in two areas: cultural competency
of health care providers, especially those from Asia and Africa who are often assigned to community health centers, and the impact of an
accessible community health center on the health seeking behaviors and
health status of predominately African American communities.

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