Buscando el Cuidado: Spatial Mismatch of Physician Services in Spanish for Latinxs in Suburban Chicago

Abstract / Resumen / Resumo

The gap between the large and growing Latinx population and culturally-matching physicians presents a potentially significant barrier to health care access, especially for Latinx immigrants. Latinx’s racial, cultural, and linguistic characteristics, along with socio-economic behaviors, are changing the health care needs landscape.

This paper examines the spatial mismatch of Latinx physicians and Latinx patients in the United States, particularly those in exurban areas. The paper employs an intersectionality-based health geographic and Latinx Studies-influenced framework, asserting that ethnic and immigrant groups have unique health care interests apart from the majority population. Such interests include needing culturally- and linguistically-matching physicians, while obtaining high-quality, low-cost care, along with concerns about visibility and citizenship.

To identify spatial mismatch, this paper surveyed 32 Latinx adults living in an exurban Chicago suburb about their health care experiences. In addition, travel times were estimated for Latinx residents to all nearby Spanish language service-providing physicians in the selected community with rapid recent growth in Latinx population.

Results showed high travel times to Spanish-language physicians for Latinx residents who rely on public transit and a lack of such physicians in the community despite rapid Latinx population growth. Many respondents identified resource barriers including lack of insurance, high cost, and poor public transportation options.

bar_chart-01.tif (41482 kB)
Bar chart of the Carpentersville public and private transit travel times. Made with Excel and Adobe Illustrator.

Carpentersville_Spatial_Mismatch.tif (31177 kB)
Map of Carpentersville spatial mismatch. Made with ArcGIS and Adobe Illustrator.

healthcare_path.tif (44 kB)
Visual of health care path for immigrants. Made with Powerpoint and Word.