Health seeking behaviors of African Americans: Implications for health administration

Barbara Hewins-Maroney, Alice Schumaker, Ethel Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Disparities in health care and good health between African Americans and other populations while established in the literature are traditionally based on socioeconomic measures of race, income, age, and education (Bailey, 2000; Lillie-Blanton, Brodie, Rowland, Altman and McIntosh, 2000; Ren and Amick, 1996; Watson, 2001; Weinick, Zuvekas, and Cohen, 2000). This study broadens the scope by exploring how sociocultural (poverty, racism, prejudice, and discrimination) and psychosocial factors (perceived health status, the lack of personal efficacy in contributing to decisions about health care, feelings of helplessness, and the lack of trust in the health care providers) relate to health-seeking behaviors of African Americans (Bailey, 1991; Ren and Amick, 1996, Watson, 2001). Interviews were conducted with 111 African American adult patients at a community health center, focusing on health-seeking behaviors, and sociocultural and psychosocial factors. Results suggest that when these negative factors are removed, the health seeking behaviors of African Americans closely mirror the behaviors of the majority population. Subjects did not view themselves in poorer health, fail to seek medical attention when needed, or distrust their primary health care providers. In general, fears associated with health care were attributed to illness rather than health care providers, although a weak linkage was found between patient self-esteem and fear or dislike of future treatment by physicians (adj R2= .362, S.E. =15, F=21, sig. <.001). The study highlights the need for further study in two areas: cultural competency of health care providers, especially those from Asia and Africa who are often assigned to community health centers, and the impact of an accessible community health center on the health seeking behaviors and health status of predominately African American communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-95
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Health and Human Services Administration
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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