Mexican American Elders' Use of Skilled Home Care Nursing Services


  • Janice D. Crist

Janice D. Crist, R.N., Ph.D., University of Arizona 1305 N. Martin, Tucson, AZ 85721-0203. E-mail:


Hispanic elders use skilled home care nursing (SHCN) services less often than Anglo elders. The purpose of this study was to identify factors that influence whether disabled Mexican American elders decide to use SHCN services. The research process included reviewing the historical context in one Mexican American community, interviewing key and primary informants, presenting a report to the community and getting feedback, and assessing whether the community perceived a need for increased use of SHCN services by their disabled elders. Seven barriers to the use of SHCN services were identified: expectations of discrimination, lack of knowledge about services, expectations embedded in familism, lack of sense of prevention, lack of health insurance, preference for traditional remedies, and neglect/abuse. A community advisory committee validated the barriers identified during interviews and the need for increased use of SHCN services. Results provide new insight into the sociopolitical and cultural complexities that influence health care utilization decisions by Mexican American elders and their families and uncover traditional, oversimplified beliefs and practices by mainstream professionals and policymakers. Interventions that decrease inequities in a southern Arizona community may be transferable to other vulnerable populations in the United States and globally.