Objectives. Although racial and ethnic differences in the use of hospital and physician services have been well established, research has not examined the relationship between minority status and the use of prescription medications for children with some access to the health care system. This study examines differences in probability and number of prescribed medications by race and ethnicity, and whether the differences remain if socioeconomic factors, indicators of need, and number of physician visits are taken into account.
Methods. Using data from the 1987 National Medical Expenditure Survey, multivariate regression analysis was used to examine the probability of receiving a prescription medication and number of medications for two samples of children, ages 1 to 5 (N = 1347) and ages 6 to 17 (N = 2155).
Results. Descriptive statistics indicate that compared with white children, black and Hispanic children are less likely to receive a prescribed medication and have on average, fewer medications. The multivariate results of this analysis show that those differences persist, depending on age group of the child, after adjusting for socioeconomic factors, health conditions, and number of physician visits.
Conclusions. The relationship between racial and ethnic status and the use of prescription medication mirrors other types of services, such as physician visits, and affirms that minorities receive fewer services than whites.
- Received January 26, 1994.
- Accepted August 8, 1994.
- Copyright © 1995 by the American Academy of Pediatrics