The impact of residential socio-economic profile on medical service utilisation and nursing home attendance claims by older Australians
Gill, GF and Blackmore, K and Geraghty, DP and FitzGerald, DG, The impact of residential socio-economic profile on medical service utilisation and nursing home attendance claims by older Australians, Australian Journal of Primary Health, 10, (3) pp. 137-144. ISSN 1448-7527 (2004) [Refereed Article]
In other developed countries, older persons in deprived personal circumstances make increased use of primary care and nursing homes compared with those less disadvantaged. The influence of living in a more deprived area on the use of these services by older residents has not been so well studied. This study appraises if older Australians living in more disadvantaged locations have similar increased service usage. Retrospective analyses of fee-for-service data from 1 October 2001 to 30 September 2002 for all Medicare and Department of Veterans' Affairs claimants aged 77 years and over, not admitted to residential aged care, were undertaken. Data were analysed by age, gender and quartile of disadvantage of postcode of residence as categorised by the Australian Bureau of Statistics 1996 Census Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage. The main outcome measures were: mean number of claims for general practitioner primary medical care (GP) services; longer GP consultations; specialist consultations; rate of GP health assessments; and, first claims for GP nursing home attendances. Mean number of claims for GP primary medical care services generally decreased as the disadvantage of postcode increased. Men aged 77-79 years were an exception, with no difference in the mean across quartiles of disadvantage. The mean number of claims for longer primary care consultations and all specialist consultations also decreased as the disadvantage of postcode increased. Claims for GP health assessments were more frequent as the disadvantage of the residential postcode increased. Claim rates for first nursing home attendance items by men did not differ across the range of disadvantage. This lack of difference was also seen for women aged 77-79 years. Claims for first nursing home attendance items by women aged 80 or more years decreased as the disadvantage of postcode increased. This study concluded that there are fewer claims for medical and nursing home services by older Australians living in more disadvantaged postcodes. Whether this represents under-provision of medical care leading to sub-optimal health outcomes needs further examination.