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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Latent Class Analysis of Barriers to Care Among Emergency Department Patients

  • Author(s): Abar, Beau
  • Holub, Ashley
  • Hong, Steven
  • Aaserude, Eric
  • DeRienzo, Vincent
  • et al.

Introduction: Emergency department (ED) patients experience a variety of barriers to care that can lead to unnecessary or repeated visits. By identifying the patterns of barriers experienced by subsets of the ED patient population, future researchers might effectively design interventions to circumvent these barriers and improve care. This study sought to identify classes of individuals with regard to perceived barriers to care. Methods: Over a 10-week period, two medical students distributed surveys to eligible patients ≥18 years who presented to the ED. After consent, patients provided demographics data and rated their perceived access to care on nine specific items (scored 1-5). We used latent class analysis (LCA), a parametric clustering method, to determine patient groups. Demographic characteristics were then compared across classes.Results: We enrolled a total of 637 patients. Results of the LCA indicated that a six-class solution fit best: 1) low barriers (60%); 2) “work responsibility” barriers (13%); 3) economic-related barriers (10%); 4) “appointment difficulty” barriers (8%); 5) “illness and care responsibilities” barriers (6%); and 6) diverse barriers (2%). Patients in the low-barriers class were the oldest across classes (p<.001). Individuals in the low-barriers class were also more likely to be White (p=.015) and have private insurance (p<.001) than those in the “appointment difficulty,” “illness and care responsibilities,” and diverse barriers classes. Conclusion: LCA suggests there are six distinct classes of patients with regard to perceived access to care. These classes may be used as a potential starting point in designing targeted interventions for ED patients to improve continuity of care.

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