Limited English Proficiency and Latinos' Use of Physician Services

Published in: Medical Care Research and Review, v. 57, no. 1, Mar. 2000, p. 76-91

Posted on on January 01, 2000

by Kathryn Pitkin Derose, David William Baker

Read More

Access further information on this document at

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Many Latinos have limited English proficiency and this may negatively affect their use of health care services. To examine this, the authors interviewed 465 Spanish-speaking Latinos and 259 English speakers of various ethnicities who presented to a public hospital emergency department with nonurgent medical problems to assess previous physician visits, sociodemographic characteristics, and level of English proficiency. The proportion of patients who reported no physician visit during the 3 months before study enrollment was not related to English proficiency. However, among the 414 patients who saw a physician at least once, Latinos with fair and poor English proficiency reported approximately 22 percent fewer physician visits (p = 0.020 and p = 0.015, respectively) than non-Latinos whose native language was English, even after adjusting for other determinants of physician visits. The magnitude of the association between limited English proficiency and number of physician visits was similar to that for having poor health, no health insurance, or no regular source of care.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.