Minor Life Events as Predictors of Medical Utilization in Low Income African American Family Practice Patients

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This study assessed the ability of minor life events to predict medical utilization among 141 low-income, predominantly African American family practice patients. Subjects completed one year of stress assessments including major and minor life events. Four years of prospective medical utilization was collected, including outpatient, inpatient, and emergency department visits. Hierarchical regressions were conducted to assess the predictive value of minor life events for utilization, after controlling for demographic variables and major life events. The impact of minor life events was a significant predictor of outpatient utilization, accounting for 3.6% of the variance. Minor life events were unrelated to emergency department and inpatient visits. The relationship between minor life events and some types of utilization suggests traditional stress management techniques may be beneficial in reducing utilization for some patients, although such conclusions are tempered by the modest relationship between stress and utilization.

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