Health Services Utilization

Usual Source of Care

Women who have a usual source of care (a place they usually go when they are sick) are more likely to receive preventive care,1 to have access to care (as indicated by use of a physician or emergency room, or not delaying seeking care when needed),2 to receive continuous care, and to have lower rates of hospitalization and lower health care costs.3 In 2004, almost 90 percent of women reported having a usual source of care. Women of all racial and ethnic groups were more likely than men to have a usual source of care, with Asians being the sole exception. Among women, non-Hispanic Whites were most likely to report a usual source of care (91.5 percent), followed by non-Hispanic Blacks (90.3 percent); Hispanic women were least likely to report a usual source of care (77.8 percent).

In 2004, 86.5 percent of women reported an office-based source of care (such as a physician’s office), while fewer than 1 percent reported an emergency department as their usual source. This varied by citizenship status: women born in the United States were more likely to report an office-based usual source of care and non-citizen residents of the United States were less likely. Non-citizens were also the most likely to report no usual source of care.

1 Ettner SL. The relationship between continuity of care and the health behaviors of patients: does a usual physician make a difference? Medical Care 1999;37(6): 647-55.

2 Sox CM, Swartz K, Burstin HR, Brennan TA. Insurance or a regular physician: which is the most powerful predictor of health care? AJPH 1998;88(3):364-70.

3 Weiss LJ, Blustein J. Faithful patients: the effect of long-term physician-patient relationships on the cost and use of health care by older Americans. AJPH 1996;86(12):1742-7.

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Women's Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.