A significant proportion of American adults do not have a regular source of healthcare and the reasons for this shortfall are not fully understood. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between individual differences in threat sensitivity and healthcare utilization in a survey of 483 African American men. Demographics, psychological characteristics, and health behaviors were assessed. The primary outcomes were: 1) most frequent source of healthcare utilization (doctor's office or clinic vs. emergency room vs. no place), and 2) frequency of healthcare utilization (one or more vs. no healthcare visits in the previous year). Data were analyzed with multivariable logistic regression. Results showed that threat sensitivity, insurance status, and age were associated with the most frequent source of healthcare utilization. Compared to men who most commonly used a doctor's office or clinic, men who tended to use an emergency room had higher levels of threat sensitivity and those with no usual healthcare source had lower levels of threat sensitivity. These findings fit with leading neurobiological theories of personality regarding threat sensitivity. From a pragmatic standpoint, these findings may also lend insight to the tailoring of health marketing messages designed to optimize utilization of healthcare resources.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01685
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Psychology
  • Public health


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