Access to health care among older adults and receipt of preventive services. Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2002

Prev Med. 2005 Mar;40(3):337-43. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.06.009.


Background: Although most of the 34 million U.S. adults aged 65 years and older have health care coverage, many do not receive preventive care. To investigate why, we examined various barriers to access of health care and their effect on obtaining preventive care.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted of noninstitutionalized adults, aged 65 years or older, in states that participated in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in 2002.

Results: Of the 46,659 respondents aged 65 years and older, 93% had a regular care provider, 98% had a regular place of care, and 98% were able to obtain needed medical care. Those with a regular care provider or a regular place of care were more likely to receive clinical preventive services than those without either of these. Reasons for not obtaining needed medical care were cost (27%), too long a wait for an appointment (20%), no transportation or distance (9%), office not open when the individual could get there (8%), and other reasons (32%).

Conclusions: Having a regular care provider or a regular place of care is associated with a significant likelihood of receipt of clinical preventive services among older adults. Efforts to eliminate barriers to health care access may increase older adults' receipt of such services.

MeSH terms

  • Aged / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethnic Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Preventive Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States