In Vietnam, as in much of the world, the elderly population is growing rapidly. Two-thirds of Vietnam's elderly live in rural areas, where there may be unique health profiles and needs. Furthermore, the sex ratio in the elderly population is highly skewed. The relationship between sex, health-seeking behavior, and health outcomes in elderly individuals residing in rural areas has not been well-characterized, and needs to be elucidated in order to better serve this population. This study sought to explore the associations of sex with health and health-seeking behavior among the elderly in Soc Son, a rural district of Hanoi. A cross-sectional design was employed; elderly women and men were surveyed across the domains of socioeconomic information, health status, and healthcare service utilization. We found differences between women and men in sociodemographic characteristics, quality of life, health outcomes, and patterns of health services utilization. Overall, women had poorer health and quality of life, but no difference was found between sexes regarding level of health services utilization. Future research should expand upon these findings and, moreover, characterize their underlying systemic, sociocultural, and psychological mechanisms, in order to help bring solutions to improve the health of elderly persons in rural parts of Vietnam.
Keywords: Vietnam; aging; elderly; health services utilization; quality of life; rural; sex differences.