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Keywords:

  • Assessment of Healthcare Needs;
  • Chronic Diseases;
  • Older People

Background

Despite the fact that the National Health Insurance programmes have ensured universal coverage for Koreans, disparities in access to health care and unmet healthcare needs still exist in Korea.

Aim

The purpose of this study was to analyse factors affecting unmet healthcare needs of older people in Korea.

Methods

This study had a cross-sectional, descriptive design using secondary data taken from the Korean National Health and Nutrition Survey conducted in 2007–2009. A complex sampling design was used, and the participants included a nationally representative sample of 3943 people older than 64 years. Socio-demographic variables, subjective health, existence of chronic diseases, quality of life and unmet healthcare needs were included in the study instruments. Logistic regression analyses were performed in order to examine the relationship between unmet healthcare needs and independent variables.

Results

According to the results, 29.4% of older women and 14.0% of older men had not visited clinics or hospitals when they needed to obtain healthcare services (unmet healthcare needs) during the past 12 months. Older women [odds ratio (OR) = 1.831, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.428–2.347] and those with poor subjective health (OR = 1.708, 95% CI = 1.371–2.126) and arthritis (OR = 1.278, 95% CI = 1.029–1.586) were more likely to have unmet healthcare needs than their counterparts.

Conclusions

Efforts to decrease unmet healthcare needs, targeting high-risk groups (especially for older women), are needed in order to prevent disability, decrease mortality and promote the quality of life of older people.