Armenta, Amada and Heidy Sarabia. Forthcoming. “Receptionists, Doctors, and Social Workers: Examining Undocumented Immigrant Women’s Perceptions of Health Services.” Social Science & Medicine.
In this paper, we examine the attitudes, experiences, and perceptions of health care among unauthorized immigrant women in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Research on health care utilization among undocumented immigrants usually focuses on barriers to securing health care access, but little attention has been paid to how these barriers shape patients’ experiences. Patients’ experiences are important because they affect persistence in care seeking, adherence to treatment regimens, and self-reported health. Drawing from interviews with undocumented Mexican women, we find that receptionists, staff, and social workers play an important role in shaping women’s perceptions of health care. In contrast to previous research which finds that negative experiences with providers lead undocumented immigrants to withdraw from seeking medical services, without fail, our respondents persisted and sought care elsewhere. This strategy ensured that all women eventually found care with which they were satisfied, but sometimes after significant delays.
Key words: United StatesUndocumented immigrantsWomenLatinosHealth carePerceptionsHealth care