Health and Latinos in Us-Mexico border


Dr. Patricia Reagan, Department of Economics
Rank at time of award: Professor
Dr. Pamela Salsberry, Department of Nursing
Rank at time of award: Associate Professor



The main objective is to develop a pilot study that demonstrates the feasibility of a telephone health interview survey in the RGV.  The population in the RGV is not a typical US population.  Thus, while many questions can be adapted from existing health surveys, the questionnaires must be designed to address several specific areas: (1) There are high levels of uninsurance among parents, why are children uninsured when CHIPS is free in Texas; (2) Most of the population has experience with both the Mexican and the US health systems.  This past experience affects their current usage on both sides of the border. The survey instrument must be designed to elicit meaningful information about a bi­ cultural and bi-national use of health care. (3) The final objective will be to assess how representative a telephone survey will be of this population. There are many reasons a priori to believe that it will not be representative. In order to make a credible case to NIH for a larger survey, we must develop credible methodologies, such as generation of sampling weights, to obtain population statistics from the survey data.
Significance:  There are 8.4 million uninsured children in the US (11.4% of all US children) and US-Mexico border communities have a disproportionate shared of uninsured children (as high as one-third of all children in some RGV communities). Most uninsured children in border communities are poor Latinos and the causes and consequences of uninsurance-in terms - of  health  and health care  access-have not  been studied systematically for  this population. Moreover, border communities also have the highest adult uninsurance rates in the US and there is some evidence that parent's use and access of health  care services may be linked to children's utilization of health care services.  In addition, little is known about the cross border utilization of health care. Individuals may delay obtaining services until a trip to Mexico, where costs may be lower. Lastly, the economic costs of the poorer health and shorter lifespan of uninsured children and adults are substantial. Aggregate estimates of this lost health capital range from $65 to $130 billion per year and do not include spillover effects to families and communities resulting from the poorer health of the uninsured population.

Publications resulting from this seed grant

2009. Salsberry, Pamela J. and Patricia B. Reagan, Comparing the influence of childhood and adult economic status on midlife obesity in Mexican-American, White, and African-American women, Public Health Nursing, vol. 26, no. 1, 14-22. PMCID: PMC2660594