• access;
  • barriers;
  • health-care;
  • underserved;
  • uninsured;
  • urban poor


An understanding of perceived barriers to health-care is critical to improving healthcare access for all Americans. To determine perceived barriers to health-care in an urban poor population in Dayton, Ohio, a face-to-face door-to-door survey of individuals identified through targeted, stratified, area probability sampling was done. A sample of 413 non-elderly poor adults, including 19% without telephones, reported personal relevance of various barriers to healthcare access. Most frequently endorsed barriers were lack of information about free or reduced-cost health-care, anticipated cost, and difficulty accessing child-care. Seventy-four per cent of respondents reported more than one barrier. Individuals without telephones and those without health insurance reported more barriers to health-care. Reported barriers were similar for working and non-working poor, except for transportation problems, more frequently reported by non-working respondents. This study provides important data on what poor people in a medically underserved community perceive to be barriers to accessing health-care and underscores the importance of including people without telephones in the study design. Respondents who did not have telephones were more likely to report multiple barriers, particularly problems with lack of information about free or discounted medical care, child-care, and transportation. These findings suggest the importance of door-to-door surveys rather than telephone surveys for getting accurate data on the poor.