Patient age influences perceptions about health care communication

Fam Med. 2009 Feb;41(2):126-33.


Objective: The study's objective was to determine if a patient's age is independently associated with how he/she perceives interactions with health care providers.

Methods: We used a secondary, cross-sectional analysis of nationally representative data from the 2002 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). We measured the independent association between patient age and six outcomes pertaining to communication and decision-making autonomy, while simultaneously controlling for gender, race, ethnicity, family income, educational attainment, census region, rural residence, insurance status, and usual source of care.

Results: Compared to patients>or=65 years, patients ages 18-64 were less likely to report that their provider "always" listened to them, "always" showed respect for what they had to say, and "always" spent enough time with them.

Discussion: Patient perceptions of health care interactions vary by age. A better understanding of how and why age is associated with patient-provider communication could be useful to design practice-level interventions that enhance services and also to develop national policies that improve health care delivery and health outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors*
  • Aged
  • Communication*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Making
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • United States
  • Young Adult