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Utilization and access to health care services among African immigrants living in Pittsburgh

Patel, Bhavini (2016) Utilization and access to health care services among African immigrants living in Pittsburgh. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Research indicates the health of many immigrant populations’ deteriorates the longer they live in the U.S., leading to the “immigrant health advantage” phenomenon. Several studies suggest new immigrants tend to have healthier behaviors when they first arrive in America compared to U.S. natives. Immigrants tend to originate from cultures with patterns of lower stress levels and strong familial and societal networks that promote healthier lifestyles. Structural and systematic barriers to accessing and utilizing health care services could potentially explain the eventual decline in immigrant health. Immigrants lacking access to health care services are likelier to have poorer health outcomes. According to research studies, many African immigrants face barriers to accessing and utilizing health care due to limited English proficiency, lack of insurance, immigration status and overall lack of understanding of the complex American health care system. African immigrants have arguably been the most underserved communities within the United States despite being one of the fasting growing immigrant subgroups.
As economic pressures and political conflicts continue to influence increased African migration to the U.S., host communities must prepare to become one of the major destinations for African immigrants. Public health agencies, health care providers and community-based nonprofit organizations must understand the needs of these communities and address their health attitudes to better promote access and utilization of health care services. If the health care needs and practices of African immigrants remain poorly understood, they are at risk for worsening health outcomes. The result would be increased burden on health care service providing agencies. This incomplete understanding warrants a further evaluation.
To answer this question, a congregation of African immigrants from the Pittsburgh Gospel Tabernacle Church served as a representative sample of immigrants accessing and utilizing health care services in Pittsburgh. The congregation was asked to participate in a voluntary survey. The survey questions were organized around 3 major themes 1) Perceived barriers to access of healthcare services; 2) Perceived quality of healthcare provided; 3) Previous access to healthcare services.
Results were not completely consistent with current literature but data did reveal patterns of barriers to accessing and utilizing health care among participants. The reasons for disparity in access to health care were mainly attributable to income, transportation and language barriers. Newly arriving immigrants face tremendous challenges and the lack of country-of-origin data on African immigrant populations provides an even further limited understanding of the barriers immigrants face in utilizing and accessing health care services. The African immigrant population’s burden of disease can affect their social and economic capital, which determines their long-term success in acclimating in the U.S. This research intends to shed light on the possibility of interventions that can improve the health of African immigrants and increase their potential for upward mobility.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Patel, Bhavinibgp5@pitt.eduBGP5
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFapohunda, Abimbolaaof3@pitt.eduAOF3
Committee MemberLelei, Macrinamacrina@pitt.eduMACRINA
Committee MemberRomesberg, Danielromesber@pitt.eduROMESBER
Date: 27 April 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 7 April 2016
Approval Date: 27 April 2016
Submission Date: 24 April 2016
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 50
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Africana Studies
David C. Frederick Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Sociology
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Immigrant Health, African Health,
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2016 17:46
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:33


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