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Racial/ethnic variations in veterans' ambulatory care use.

Washington DL, Villa V, Brown A, Damron-Rodriguez J, Harada N. Racial/ethnic variations in veterans' ambulatory care use. American journal of public health. 2005 Dec 1; 95(12):2231-7.

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OBJECTIVES: We assessed racial/ethnic variations in patterns of ambulatory care use among Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care-eligible veterans to determine if racial/ethnic differences in health care use persist in equal-access systems. METHODS: We surveyed 3227 male veterans about their health and ambulatory care use. RESULTS: Thirty-eight percent of respondents had not had a health care visit in the previous 12 months. Black (odds ratio [OR] = 0.5), Hispanic (OR = 0.4), and Asian/Pacific Islander veterans (OR = 0.4) were less likely than White veterans to report any ambulatory care use. Alternately, Whites (OR = 2.2) were more likely than other groups to report ambulatory care use. Being White was a greater predictor of health care use than was having fair or poor health (OR = 1.4) or functional limitations (OR = 1.5). In non-VA settings, racial/ethnic minorities were less likely to have a usual provider of health care. There was no VA racial/ethnic variation in this parameter. CONCLUSIONS: Racial/ethnic disparities in health and health care use are present among VA health care-eligible veterans. Although the VA plays an important role in health care delivery to ethnic minority veterans, barriers to VA ambulatory care use and additional facilitators for reducing unmet need still need to be investigated.

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