Utilization of Emergency Visits and Sources of Care: Factors Related to Educational Attainment

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Over 130 million estimated emergency department (ED) visits occur in the United States each year (Vladutiu et al., 2019). A large population of adults who are low income do not have a usual source of health care leading to avoidable ED visits. The purpose of this study was to identify if there was a significant difference in the self-reported usual source of care and the utilization of emergency room visits across educational attainment levels in adults in California. Research showed that educational attainment was associated with a usual source of care and reduced ED visits (Jonassaint, 2016). This study included data from the 2018 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). Chi-square tests of independence test were used to separately evaluate differences in the self-reported usual source of care and individual visits to the ED in relation to educational attainment. This study's findings determined a statistically significant association between educational attainment and usual source of care (p ≥ 0.05). No statistically significant association was found between educational attainment and emergency visit (p ≥ 0.05). Different factors contributed to these findings, including the CHIS sample relying on adults who were home during regular working hours. Therefore, results may not have accounted for a representative sample of all low-income groups who experience disproportionate access to care. Future research to include an evaluation of how to best define categories for capturing different types of usual sources of care. This information was essential to improve health disparities and quality based on educational attainment.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Public Health
Public Health, Health Education