Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 399–409 | Cite as

“Does this Look Infected to You?” Social Network Predictors of Dental Help-Seeking Among Mexican Immigrants

Original Paper


Compared to U.S. born Latinos, Mexican immigrants (MAs) have diminished health care access and face substantial barriers to accessing needed dental health services. However, little research has examined how MAs social networks shape their use of dental health services. Using data from 332 Mexican immigrants to the Midwest, this research examines the significance of individual and egocentric network characteristics on two measures of dental health service utilization. Findings reveal that network size, network dental service utilization, and the frequency with which MAs discuss acute problems with network ties, positively correspond to use of oral health services. Conversely, embeddedness in networks where ties hassle egos about dental issues and have low levels of dental health knowledge correspond to lower odds of using these services. This research is among the first to use ego network data and methods to examine the ways network characteristics shape oral health behaviors among this underserved population.


Social networks Oral Health Health care utilization Mexican Americans Emigrants and Immigrants 



This research was funded by NIDCR grant DE022096-01A1, and by Project Development Team studies UL1TR001108 and RR025761 from the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. Additionally, participants in this study were protected by a Federal Certificate of Confidentiality obtained by the Principal Investigator.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indiana University Network Science InstituteIndiana University, BloomingtonBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Sociology/Indiana University Network Science InstituteIndiana University, BloomingtonBloomingtonUSA
  3. 3.School of Dentistry / Indiana University Network Science InstituteIndiana University / Purdue University at IndianapolisIndianapolisUSA

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