Aging through the time of COVID-19: a survey of self-reported healthcare access

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Abstract

Background: Chronic conditions are common and require ongoing continuous management and preventive measures. The COVID-19 pandemic may have affected the management of chronic conditions by delaying care. We sought to understand the impact of personal characteristics (i.e., age) and healthcare factors (i.e., access to a provider) on healthcare access in a sample of Americans 50 years of age or older during COVID-19. Method: Participants completed an online survey at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – the Aging in the Time of COVID Survey. Questions focused on health status, health care access, COVID-19 fear, and social connectedness. Participants were recruited through social media advertisements, list serves, and snowball sampling. Data collection started in early April 2020 and concluded in late May 2020. Logistic regression models examined the results of two key access points: healthcare provider/doctor (n = 481) and medication (n = 765), with 56 and 93% of participants reporting access to a provider and medications, respectively. Results: Individuals with an established primary care provider were much more likely to obtain access to a healthcare provider, OR = 3.81 (95% CI: 1.69, 8.77), and to receive medication, OR = 4.48 (95% CI: 1.61, 11.48), during the time of COVID-19. In addition, access to medication was (a) higher for those who were older, OR = 1.05 (95% CI: 1.01, 1.09), had a higher income (greater than 100 k compared to less than 50 k, OR = 3.04 (95% CI: 1.11, 8.98), and (b) lower for those having caregiving responsibilities, OR = 0.41 (95% CI: 0.21, 0.78), or greater social isolation, OR = 0.93 (95% CI: 0.87, 0.98). Conclusions: Although most participants had access to medication, just over half had access to a healthcare provider when needed. Notably, health-seeking behaviors for individuals who do not have an established primary care providers as well as those who provide unpaid care, are socially isolated, and younger may require more proactive approaches to care monitoring, management, and maintenance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1355
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Barriers
  • COVID-19
  • Chronic conditions
  • Healthcare access
  • Older adults
  • Pandemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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