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Navigating the Health Care System

Advice Columns from Dr. Carolyn Clancy

Former AHRQ Director Carolyn Clancy, M.D., prepared brief, easy-to-understand advice columns for consumers to help navigate the health care system. They address important issues such as how to recognize high-quality health care, how to be an informed health care consumer, and how to choose a hospital, doctor, and health plan.

No matter how old you are, taking steps to stay healthy is a smart thing to do. Staying healthy can also increase your chances of being involved in—and enjoying—your children's lives.

If you are Hispanic, however, you are less likely to be involved in your health care than other ethnic groups in the United States. Hispanics are 38 percent less likely than non-Hispanics to have visited the doctor within the past year, according to the latest data from my Agency.

Hispanics get fewer tests that can detect a medical problem before it causes an illness. More than a quarter of Hispanics have never had their cholesterol checked, and two-thirds of Hispanics over the age of 50 have never had a colonoscopy, a test for colon cancer. And more than half of Hispanic women over the age of 40 have not had a mammogram, a test for breast cancer, within the past year.

Hispanics may get less medical care because they don't have health insurance. However, some studies have found that Hispanics who do have health insurance still lag behind the general population in getting preventive tests.

To address these issues, AHRQ and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created Spanish-language TV and radio ads to encourage Hispanic men and women to become more involved in their health care so they can stay healthy for their children.

Called Superhéroes, the new TV and radio ads feature mothers and fathers whose children see them as high-energy people who can solve any problem. The ads also show the mothers and fathers at their doctor's office because even superheroes need to take steps to stay healthy.

The ads urge Hispanic adults to visit a Spanish-language Web site. The site gives tips on ways to stay healthy and how to talk to a doctor. It also gives advice on preventive tests, help in understanding medicines, a quiz, and a glossary of medical terms. Additional sources of health information in Spanish are included.

AHRQ plans to work with leading Hispanic advocacy groups, employers, insurers, and others to relay the campaign's message: Be a Superhero. Take care of your health for your loved ones.

These new Superhéroes ads are part of my Agency's ongoing efforts to help patients become more involved in decisions about their medical care. AHRQ and the Ad Council also created ads to help prevent medical errors. Called "," those ads urge patients to create question lists that focus on their medical needs and ask the questions during their medical appointment or visit to the pharmacist.

With the Superhéroes ads, we hope to educate Hispanic men and women that taking care of their health is an important way to show how much they care about their family. By doing that, mothers and fathers can continue to be Superhéroes to their loved ones.

I'm Dr. Carolyn Clancy, and that's my opinion on how to navigate the health care system.


More Information

AHRQ Podcast
 podcast Be A Superhero: Take Care of Your Health  (Transcript)  Podcast Help

podcast AHRQ Newscast - Week of April 9, 2008  (Transcript)


Questions are the Answer
Get More Involved With Your Health Care


Healthcare 411

Page last reviewed April 2008
Internet Citation: Superhéroes Ads Encourage Hispanics to Get Involved in Their Own Heal. April 2008. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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