Correlations Among Self-Rated Health, Chronic Disease, and Healthcare Utilization in Widowed Older Adults in Taiwan

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Abstract

Background:

Taiwan has a rapidly aging population. It is well known that older adults usually have worse health than younger adults, with widowed older adults at a particularly high risk of poor health. Widowed older adults experience the effects of bereavement, which affects their health. Therefore, health topics related to widowed older adults deserve special attention.

Purpose:

The aim of this study was to discuss self-rated health for chronic diseases and healthcare utilization among widowed older adults.

Methods:

A cross-section of data was used to analyze self-rated health-related issues. Data were adopted from the National Health Interview Survey in Taiwan, with the data on adults aged 65 years and over extracted and included in the assessment. Multinomial logistic regression models were used to investigate the relationships between healthcare utilization and self-rated health and chronic disease variables.

Results:

The main empirical results show worse self-rated health status among widowed older adults in comparison with their nonwidowed peers and worse health status for widowers than widows. Next, age was negatively correlated with health rating, whereas a positive correlation with health was found for education. In addition, chronic diseases, particularly stroke, were found to be a significant predictive factor related to poor health status. Similar results were observed for healthcare utilization, apart from traditional Chinese medicine. Older adults who habitually purchased and used traditional Chinese medicine were shown to enjoy relatively better health statuses.

Conclusions/Implications for Practice:

These findings identified that chronic diseases and healthcare utilization correlated strongly with self-rated health for widowed older adults. Therefore, self-rated health may be used as a screening tool by the National Health Insurance System in Taiwan, and the results may be referenced by public health officials who are responsible for developing welfare strategies to promote healthy aging among the widowed in Taiwan.

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