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Master of Science (M.S.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Rural mothers, maternal health care utilization, pediatric health care utilization, simultaneous systems, negative binomial regression, Rural Families Speak
The determinants of health care use among rural, low-income mothers and their children were assessed using a multi-state, longitudinal data set, Rural Families Speak. The results indicate that rural mothers’ decisions regarding health care utilization for themselves and for their child can be best modeled using a simultaneous systems approach to negative binomial regression. Mothers’ visits to a health care provider increased with higher self-assessed depression scores, increased number of child’s doctor visits, greater numbers of total children in the household, greater numbers of chronic conditions, need for prenatal or post-partum care, development of a new medical condition, and having health insurance (Medicaid/equivalent and HMO/private). Child’s visits to a health care provider, on the other hand, increased with greater numbers of chronic conditions, development of a new medical condition, and increased mothers’ visits to a doctor. Child’s utilization of pediatric health care services decreased with higher levels of maternal depression, greater numbers of total children in the household, if the mother had HMO/private health care coverage, if the mother was pregnant, and if the mother was Latina/African American. Mother’s use of health care services decreased with her age, increased number of child’s chronic conditions, income as a percent of the federal poverty line, and if child had HMO/private health care insurance. The study expands the econometric techniques available for assessing maternal and pediatric health care use and the results contribute to an understanding of how rural, low-income mothers choose the level of health care services use for themselves and for their child. Additionally, the results would assist in formulating policies to reorient the type of health care services provided to this vulnerable population.
Advisor(s) or Committee Chair