Healthcare utilisation among the Belgian elderly in relation to their socio-economic status
Faculty of Social Sciences. Sociology
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Health policy. - Amsterdam
, p. 174-182
University of Antwerp
Objectives To analyse the association between healthcare utilisation of elderly persons (65 and over) in Belgium in terms of contacts with GP or specialist and the socio-economic indicators household income, highest educational level within the household, and housing tenure. Methods A cross-sectional study based on 4494 non-institutionalised elderly participants in the Belgian Health Interview Surveys of 2001 and 2004. Socio-economic gradients in contacts (yes or no) with a GP or specialist were explored, based on the socio-behavioural model of Andersen, a conceptual framework that includes the most important determinants of healthcare utilisation. Three multivariate models were constructed using multiple logistic regression. Results After adjustment for age, sex, health status (self-assessed health, functional restrictions, and comorbidity), region, and living situation, initial differences in contacts with a GP and specialist between the different socio-economic groups disappeared among the elderly. On the other hand, contacts with a specialist remain dependent on SES in the younger population. Conclusions Adjustment for the determinants of healthcare utilisation among the Belgian elderly nullified the socio-economic gradients in contacts with a GP and specialist that initially existed. The results point to a potential link with the Belgian social and health policy.