Racial/ethnic disparities in health and health care among U.S. adolescents

May Lau, Hua Lin, Glenn Flores

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Objective To examine racial/ethnic disparities in medical and oral health status, access to care, and use of services in U.S. adolescents. Data Source Secondary data analysis of the 2003 National Survey of Children's Health. The survey focus was children 0-17 years old. Study Design Bivariate and multivariable analyses were conducted for white, African American, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and multiracial adolescents 10-17 years old (n = 48,742) to identify disparities in 40 measures of health and health care. Principal Findings Certain disparities were especially marked for specific racial/ethnic groups and multiracial youth. These disparities included suboptimal health status and lack of a personal doctor or nurse for Latinos; suboptimal oral health and not receiving all needed medications in the past year for African Americans; no physician visit or mental health care in the past year for Asian/Pacific Islanders; overweight/obesity, uninsurance, problems getting specialty care, and no routine preventive visit in the past year for American Indian/Alaska Natives; and not receiving all needed dental care in multiracial youth. Conclusions U.S. adolescents experience many racial/ethnic disparities in health and health care. These findings indicate a need for ongoing identification and monitoring of and interventions for disparities for all five major racial/ethnic groups and multiracial adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2031-2059
Number of pages29
JournalHealth Services Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • Race/ethnicity
  • adolescents
  • disparities
  • health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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