Exploring the Use of Nonmedical Sources of Prescription Drugs Among Immigrant Latinos in the Rural Southeastern USA

Authors

  • Aaron T. Vissman MPH,

    1. Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
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  • Fred R. Bloom PhD,

    1. Division of STD Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
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  • Jami S. Leichliter PhD,

    1. Division of STD Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
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  • Laura H. Bachmann MD, MPH,

    1. Section on Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
    2. Infectious Diseases Section, W.G. Hefner Medical Center, Salisbury, North Carolina
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  • Jaime Montaño,

    1. Chatham Social Health Council, Siler City, North Carolina
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  • Michael Topmiller MA,

    1. Department of Regional Planning, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
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  • Scott D. Rhodes PhD, MPH

    1. Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
    2. Section on Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
    3. Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
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  • This study was funded by a grant to Dr. Scott D. Rhodes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services—02885-08. For further information, contact: Scott D. Rhodes, PhD, MPH, CHES, Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy, Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1063; e-mail srhodes@wfubmc.edu.

Abstract

Background: Little is known about access to medicine among immigrant Latinos in the United States (US). This study explored access to, and use of, prescription drugs obtained from nonmedical sources among recently arrived, Spanish-speaking immigrant Latinos in rural North Carolina (NC).

Methods: Our community-based participatory research partnership collected, analyzed, and interpreted data from individual in-depth interviews with Latino community members and rural health service providers. A purposive sample of 30 community members, including traditional healers, religious leaders, transgender Latinos, heterosexual Latino men and women, and Latino gay men, were interviewed to gain emic (“insider”) perspectives on use of nonmedical sources of prescription drugs. Six local Latino health service providers also were interviewed to gain etic (“outsider”) perspectives on use.

Results: Participants described the roles of tiendas (grocers), family, and social networks in accessing treatment advice and prescription drugs. They described health care expectations among immigrants and contingencies for accessing prescription drugs in the US. Prescription medicines (eg, antibiotics, hormones, Viagra, analgesics), injection equipment (eg, syringes), and medical advice were identified as readily available from nonmedical sources.

Conclusions: Increased access to formalized health care and effective health education initiatives are needed to meet the challenges facing immigrant Latinos.

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