Objective: Findings from over a dozen studies of Hispanic/white disparities in seat belt use have been inconsistent, variably revealing that seat belt use prevalence among Hispanics is higher, lower, or comparable to use among non-Hispanics. In contrast to previous studies, this study investigates disparities in seat belt use by Hispanic subgroups of national origin.
Methods: Data from the US Fatality Analysis Reporting System were used to compare seat belt use among 60 758 non-Hispanic whites and 6879 Hispanics (Mexican American (MA), n = 5175; Central American/South American (CASA), n = 876; Puerto Rican (PR), n = 412; Cuban (CU), n = 416) killed in crashes from 1999–2003. Logistic regression was used to adjust for age, gender, seat belt law, seat position, urban/rural region, and income.
Results: Overall adjusted odds ratios for seat belt use among Hispanic subgroups, relative to non-Hispanic whites, were 1.04 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.85 to 1.28) for CUs, 1.17 (95% CI 0.95 to 1.44) for PRs, 1.33 (95% CI 1.25 to 1.42) for MAs, and 1.66 (95% CI 1.44 to 1.91) for CASAs. Relative to their non-Hispanic white counterparts, odds ratios among MA and CASA Hispanics were highest for men, younger age groups, drivers, primary law states, rural areas, and lower income quartiles.
Conclusion: Among all Hispanic subgroups, seat belt use was at least as prevalent as among non-Hispanic whites. In the CASA and MA subgroups, which have the most rapidly growing subpopulations of immigrants, seat belt use was significantly more common than among whites.
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