A new report shows that whether care preferences for older adults are considered is heavily influenced by race, income, and other variables.
“When thinking about your experiences with the healthcare system over the past year, how often were your preferences for care taken into account?”
This question was posed in a healthcare study to approximately 20,000 people over the age of 50 and living across the U.S. The University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study (HRS) is a longitudinal panel study surveying a representative sample of Americans. This ongoing study provides valuable data that researchers are using to address important questions about the challenges and opportunities of aging. The HRS is one of the first to explore the issue of person-centered care.
In one of the first studies to examine this new data, three researchers analyzed responses to the question of healthcare preferences in a recent report on person-centered care. The researchers — Marc Cohen Ph.D., Ann Hwang M.D., and Jane Tavares Ph.D.— wanted to understand how aging adults experience care, if their preferences are acknowledged, and whether their experiences vary by race and ethnicity, wealth and income, and/or insurance status.
“The delivery of person-centered care — defined as care that is guided by individuals’ preferences, needs, and values — is an important factor in high-quality healthcare systems,” says Hwang.
Despite the healthcare industry’s assertions that it is becoming more patient-centered, the researchers found that one-third of all older adults (age 50 and over) said their care preferences were “never” or only “sometimes” considered.
Using 2016 HRS data — the most recent data available — the survey revealed stark disparities based on race and ethnicity. While 8% of White respondents said their needs and preferences were never considered, 16% of Black and 27% of Hispanic respondents gave that answer. The researchers also found that, across all service settings, people who felt that the health system never took account of their care preferences were more likely to forego medical care. They visited a doctor fewer times and were less likely to use home care and outpatient surgery services. The largest impact was on use of prescription medications: they were 39% less likely to use prescription medications. Continue reading