College Student Health: Communication of Family History of Cancer and Primary Care Utilization

Lee, Vanessa, Anthony Croft, Monika Sata, Lingfei Tang, and Kristen Abraham

The present study was completed by students in the Health Disparities Research Coordination Network of the ReBUILDetroit Consortium.  This aspect of the study was designed to assess how ethnicity plays a role in students’ communication with their physicians regarding a family history of cancer  and to assess the associations of insurance status, ethnicity, and health insurance literacy with primary care utilization among undergraduate students.
Frequent primary care visits prevent and help illness. Previous quantitative studies have examined how insurance status, health insurance literacy, and ethnicity play a role in healthcare utilization. Prior research shows that African Americans tend to experience health care delays (Merritt-Davis, Keshavan, 2006). Proper understanding of the insurance market place is scarce and there has been a decline of people with the interest to do so (Bias, Agarwal, Fitzgerald, 2015). Additionally, individuals with affordable insurance are more likely to seek primary care than those without (Christopher, McCormick, Woolhandler, Himmelstein, Bor, Wilper, 2016).
Prior research has shown that patients who have members of racial or ethnic minority groups face more challenges communicating with their physicians about their health conditions versus nonminority patients (Post, Cegala, Marinelli et al.,2001). Effective communication between young adults and physicians is important because it can facilitate ongoing receipt of healthcare and health promotion behaviors, which may minimize cancer (Smith, Sosa, Hochhalter et al.,2011).
Little is known about factors associated with primary care utilization among college students or about college students’ communication with their physicians regarding family history of cancer.
Based on this background information, this study explored whether students who were members of racial or ethnic minority groups and had a family history of cancer experience more difficulty communicating with their physicians regarding their health conditions compared to nonminority students with a family history of cancer. Results from a focus group with three students from diverse backgrounds will be presented.  Additionally, it was hypothesized that low health insurance literacy, not having insurance), and being an African American  would be associated with less primary care utilization among undergraduate students. Findings from an online survey will be presented.