Barriers to Healthcare Seeking and Provision Among African American Adults in the Rural Mississippi Delta Region: Community and Provider Perspectives

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Nutrition and Food Systems


Barriers to health care access and utilization are likely to be perceived differently for receivers and providers of health care. This paper compares and contrasts perspectives of lay community members, volunteer community health advisors (CHA), and health care providers related to structural and interpersonal barriers to health care seeking and provision among African American adults experiencing health disparities in the rural Mississippi Delta. Sixty-four Delta residents (24 males, 40 females) participated in nine focus groups organized by role and gender. The constant comparative method was used to identify themes and subthemes from the focus group transcripts. Barriers were broadly categorized as structural and interpersonal with all groups noting structural barriers including poverty, lack of health insurance, and rurality. All groups identified common interpersonal barriers of gender socialization of African American males, and prevention being a low priority. Differences emerged in perceptions of interpersonal barriers between community members and healthcare providers. Community members and CHA fears of serious medical diagnosis, stigma, medical distrust, and racism emerged as factors inhibiting health care utilization. All groups were critical of insurance/regulatory constraints with providers viewing medical guidelines at times restricting their ability to provide quality treatment while community members and CHA viewed providers as receiving compensation for prescribing medications without regard to potential side-effects. These findings shed light on barriers perceived similarly and differently across these stakeholder groups, and offer directions for ongoing research, outreach, clinical work, and health care policy.

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Journal of Community Health

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