Mexican-Origin Mothers’ Experiences Using Children’s Health Care Services Academic Article uri icon


  • A focused ethnographic study in an urban Latino community in the western United States describes Mexican-origin mothers 'experiences obtaining and using health services for their children. Repeated interviews with mothers, participant observation, and children's medical records composed the data sources. Qualitative findings suggest access to health care begins in the household, where women negotiate a working diagnosis for the children's illness with family members and coalesce support for health care seeking. Immigrant mothers described more barriers to children's health care than more acculturated mothers. Quantitative analyses of medical records supported this finding, with children of the least acculturated mothers demonstrating fewer well-child visits, increased emergent visits, and lower levels of immunization completeness. The results suggest health care providers can better meet the needs of Latino families with children by offering better explanations about children's diagnoses and treatment plans and demonstrating personalismo, or a friendly, kind, and social approach to care.

publication date

  • March 2002