Binational utilization and barriers to care among Mexican American border residents with diabetes

Hendrik D. De Heer, Jennifer Salinas, Lisa M. Lapeyrouse, Josiah Heyman, Osvaldo F. Morera, Hector G. Balcazar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective. To assess whether U.S.-Mexico border residents with diabetes 1) experience greater barriers to medical care in the United States of America versus Mexico and 2) are more likely to seek care and medication in Mexico compared to border residents without diabetes. Methods. A stratified two-stage randomized cross-sectional health survey was conducted in 2009-2010 among 1 002 Mexican American households. Results. Diabetes rates were high (15.4%). Of those that had diabetes, most (86%) reported comorbidities. Compared to participants without diabetes, participants with diabetes had slightly greater difficulty paying US$ 25 (P = 0.002) or US$ 100 (P = 0.016) for medical care, and experienced greater transportation and language barriers (P = 0.011 and 0.014 respectively) to care in the United States, but were more likely to have a person/place to go for medical care and receive screenings. About one quarter of participants sought care or medications in Mexico. Younger age and having lived in Mexico were associated with seeking care in Mexico, but having diabetes was not. Multiple financial barriers were independently associated with approximately threefold-increased odds of going to Mexico for medical care or medication. Language barriers were associated with seeking care in Mexico. Being confused about arrangements for medical care and the perception of not always being treated with respect by medical care providers in the United States were both associated with seeking care and medication in Mexico (odds ratios ranging from 1.70 -2.76). Conclusions. Reporting modifiable barriers to medical care was common among all participants and slightly more common among 1) those with diabetes and 2) those who sought care in Mexico. However, these are statistically independent phenomena; persons with diabetes were not more likely to use services in Mexico. Each set of issues (barriers facing those with diabetes, barriers related to use of services in Mexico) may occur side by side, and both present opportunities for improving access to care and disease management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-154
Number of pages8
JournalRevista Panamericana de Salud Publica/Pan American Journal of Public Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Border areas
  • Border health
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Mexican Americans
  • Mexico
  • Texas
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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