Understanding and measuring health care insecurity

Philip E. Tomsik, Samantha Smith, Mary Jane Mason, Stephen J. Zyzanski, Kurt C. Stange, James J. Werner, Susan A. Flocke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose. To define the concept of “health care insecurity,” validate a new selfreport measure, and examine the impact of beginning care at a free clinic on uninsured patients’ health care insecurity. Methods. Consecutive new patients presenting at a free clinic completed 15 items assessing domains of health care insecurity (HCI) at their first visit and again four to eight weeks later. Psychometrics and change of the HCI measure were examined. Results. The HCI measure was found to have high internal consistency (α=0.94). Evidence of concurrent validity was indicated by negative correlation with VR-12 health-related quality of life physical and mental health components and positive correlation with the Perceived Stress Scale. Predictive validity was shown among the 83% of participants completing follow-up: HCI decreased after beginning care at a free clinic (p<.001). Conclusion. Reliably assessing patient experience of health care insecurity is feasible and has potential to inform efforts to improve quality and access to care among underserved populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1821-1832
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of health care for the poor and underserved
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Disparities
  • Health care
  • Health services
  • Inequality
  • Insecurity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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