Neighborhood Effects on Primary Care Access

Julia C. Prentice, Boston University

Individual health outcomes differ greatly between neighborhoods, and research has begun to examine how neighborhood environment affects individual health. The limited access to health care among individuals in disadvantaged neighborhoods is hypothesized to cause poorer health. Yet, research has not examined if the neighborhood environment affects an individual’s ability to access primary care. Using the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey, I found significant variation among neighborhoods in an individual’s ability to access primary care that is not explained by the composition of individuals living in the neighborhood. I then examined four potential mechanisms that may explain how the neighborhood environment affects primary care access: 1) neighborhood information networks, 2) neighborhood health behavior norms, 3) neighborhood social capital and 4) neighborhood health care resources. Social capital and health care resources significantly predict primary care access. Differential primary care access is a potentially important mechanism linking neighborhood environment and individual health.

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Presented in Poster Session 1: Aging, Life Course, Health, Mortality, and Health Care