Iran is experiencing a very fast population ageing, ranking 3rd globally in terms of pace of population ageing. The increase in the elderly population has been accompanied by an increase in demand for health services. A knowledge and understanding of the utilization of health services by the elderly are essential for resource allocation and health planning. This study aimed to investigate the utilization of in-patient services by the Iranian elderly and explore its determinants.
This study was a secondary analysis of the data of a cross-sectional National Study on the Utilization of Health Services in Iran, including 22470 households across the country. The study population was people aged 60 years and over, the sample size being 8205 individuals selected by stratified random sampling from provinces, towns and villages. A questionnaire was used to collect information on the need of the individuals to hospitalized services during the last one year and receiving the required services and analyzed using multilevel logistic regression to identify the factors related to the utilization of inpatient health services.
Of the 8205 participants, 1411 (17%) reported that they needed in-patient services at least once during the previous year, about 93% of whom referred to a hospital, of whom about 1288 (97%) finally had finally received the required services. The factors related to inpatient service utilization were age (p=0.03) and having insurance status (p<0.001), such that the older individuals and those with no insurance, although they had higher inpatient service needs, received less services. The most important cause of dissatisfaction in the towns was related to the behavior of nurses and non-physician personnel and in villages long waiting time for receiving a service. Finally, the most important causes being not willing to be hospitalized were the high service cost and no health insurance coverage.
The older people and those with no insurance should be priority groups in health service utilization policy-making and planning, so that they can access and receive better services. The causes of low inpatient service utilization and dissatisfaction should be taken into consideration seriously by health service providers and managers.
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