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VOLUME 47 | NUMBER 5 | OCTOBER 2012


Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Health and Health Care among U.S. Adolescents

Keywords: Race/ethnicity; adolescents; disparities; health.

Objective: To examine racial/ethnic disparities in medical and oral health status, access to care, and use of services in U.S. adolescents.

Data Source: Secondary data analysis of the 2003 National Survey of Children's Health. The survey focus was children 0–17 years old.

Study Design: Bivariate and multivariable analyses were conducted for white, African American, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and multiracial adolescents 10–17 years old (n = 48,742) to identify disparities in 40 measures of health and health care.

Principal Findings: Certain disparities were especially marked for specific racial/ethnic groups and multiracial youth. These disparities included suboptimal health status and lack of a personal doctor or nurse for Latinos; suboptimal oral health and not receiving all needed medications in the past year for African Americans; no physician visit or mental health care in the past year for Asian/Pacific Islanders; overweight/obesity, uninsurance, problems getting specialty care, and no routine preventive visit in the past year for American Indian/Alaska Natives; and not receiving all needed dental care in multiracial youth.

Conclusions: U.S. adolescents experience many racial/ethnic disparities in health and health care. These findings indicate a need for ongoing identification and monitoring of and interventions for disparities for all five major racial/ethnic groups and multiracial adolescents.

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