Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Mary Jo Abascal-Hildebrand, EdD, Director; Mary Woods Scherr, PhD; Diane C. Hatton, DNSc


education, health care access, ignorance, immigrants, Latinos, Schizophrenia, social justice perspectives, undocumented persons, women


This study focuses on the problems of health care access experienced by undocumented Latinas: women from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Those who are undocumented may encounter significantly reduced access to health care, for the risk of discovery causes them to be more furtive in their activities. Undocumented immigrants to the U.S., especially Latin women, confront myriad obstacles in obtaining health care that are sociocultural, political, economic, and personal. The problem of competing policies in the health care arena represents one of the most formidable obstacles for undocumented persons. These conflicting conditions are such that some services are easier to access, while other services are more difficult to obtain. For example, undocumented Latinas are likely to find family planning services easier to obtain than prenatal care under terms of the new federal welfare law that eliminates prenatal care for undocumented immigrants. Even health care providers appear to have limited awareness about competing policies. As such, this qualitative interview study illustrates that it is possible to promote greater knowledge and understanding about the problems of competing policies among a selected group of health care administrators and providers. The data analysis portrays their new awareness for which policy revisions are needed to rectify and expand undocumented Latinas' access to health care services. The data support the review of literature which together suggest that ignorance on the part of providers, the public, politicians, and the media is the most critical barrier preventing health care access for undocumented Latinas. Consequently, the participants promote education for themselves and for the community as the essential remedy to alleviate this population's pain, despair, and increased morbidity related to health care exclusion. Moreover, the participants believe education represents the crucial tool for subjugating this wrath of ignorance among the political elite. The participants' recommendations point out that social justice perspectives are integral to redefining, reconstructing, and remedizing health care policy. Recommended remedies include: upholding Latinas' right to health care by expanding health care services, establishing universal access and universal health insurance, and promoting federalized reimbursement for health care. The recommendations center upon renewed emphasis in education, research, and leadership through empowerment from participation in coalitions and fora, volunteerism, partnerships between hospitals and the community, and knowledge distribution.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access