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Keywords:

  • health locus of control;
  • nurse;
  • nursing;
  • nutritional status;
  • older adults;
  • rural–urban;
  • self-efficacy

Abstract

Aim

To compare health-related characteristics, nutrition-related factors and nutritional status of older adults living in rural and urban counties of Taiwan.

Background

The older adult population of Taiwan is increasing. Furthermore, older people living in rural areas have shorter life expectancy and more chronic diseases than their urban counterparts. However, little is known about the health-related characteristics, nutrition-related factors and nutritional status of older adults living in rural and urban areas of Taiwan, limiting nurses' ability to identify and care for older adults at risk of poor nutritional health.

Design

Cross-sectional, comparative.

Methods

Older adults were randomly selected from names of residents of an adjacent rural and urban area of northern Taiwan and having completing the 2009 health evaluation. From March–July 2010, older adult participants (N = 366) provided data on demographic and health-related information, nutritional self-efficacy, health locus of control and nutritional status. Data were analysed by descriptive statistics and compared using chi-square and t-test.

Results

Older rural participants had significantly lower educational level, less adequate income, higher medication use, lower scores on self-rated health status and researcher-rated health status and lower self-rated healthy eating status than their urban counterparts. Moreover, rural participants had significantly lower nutritional self-efficacy, higher chance health locus of control and poorer nutritional status than their urban counterparts.

Conclusions

Our results suggest that nurses should assess older adults living in rural areas for nutritional health and nutrition knowledge. Based on this assessment, nurses should develop easy, practical and accessible nutritional programmes for this population.