Health Care Avoidance Among Rural Populations: Results From a Nationally Representative Survey

Authors

  • Angela M. Spleen MS,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Public Health Sciences, College of Medicine, The Pennsylvania State University, Hershey, Pennsylvania
    • Department of Public Health Sciences, College of Medicine, The Pennsylvania State University, Hershey Pennsylvania

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  • Eugene J. Lengerich VMD,

    1. Department of Public Health Sciences, College of Medicine, The Pennsylvania State University, Hershey, Pennsylvania
    2. Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, Hershey, Pennsylvania
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  • Fabian T. Camacho MA, MS,

    1. Department of Public Health Sciences, College of Medicine, The Pennsylvania State University, Hershey, Pennsylvania
    2. Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, Hershey, Pennsylvania
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  • Robin C. Vanderpool DrPH

    1. Department of Health Behavior, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky
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  • Funding: This publication was made possible with funding from the Appalachia Community Cancer Network (5 U54 CA 153604). The authors have no financial disclosures to report. The authors wish to acknowledge the Community Sciences and Health Outcomes Core of the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute.

  • For further information, contact: Angela M. Spleen, The Pennsylvania State University, 600 Centerview Drive, Suite 2200 Mailstop A210, Hershey, PA 17033-0855; angela.spleen@psu.edu.

Abstract

Background

Previous research suggests that certain populations, including rural residents, exhibit health care avoidant behaviors more frequently than other groups. Additionally, health care avoidance is related to sociodemographics, attitudes, social expectations, ability to pay for care, and prior experiences with providers. However, previous studies have been limited to specific geographic areas, particular health conditions, or by analytic methods.

Methods

The 2008 Health Information Trends Survey (HINTS) was used to estimate the magnitude of health care avoidance nationally and, while controlling for confounding factors, identify groups of people in the United States who are more likely to avoid health care. Chi-square procedures tested the statistical significance (P < .05) of bivariate relationships. Multivariable analysis was conducted through a weighted multiple logistic regression with backward selection.

Results

For 6,714 respondents, bivariate analyses revealed differences (P < .05) in health care avoidance for multiple factors. However, multiple regression reduced the set of significant factors (P < .05) to rural residence (OR = 1.69), male sex (OR = 1.24), younger age (18-34 years OR = 2.34; 35-49 years OR = 2.10), lack of health insurance (OR = 1.43), lack of confidence in personal health care (OR = 2.24), lack of regular provider (OR = 1.49), little trust in physicians (OR = 1.34), and poor provider rapport (OR = 0.94).

Conclusion

The results of this study will help public health practitioners develop programs and initiatives targeted and tailored to specific groups, particularly rural populations, which seek to address avoidant behavior, thereby reducing the likelihood of adverse health outcomes.

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