07:22am Friday 18 August 2017

GPs and pharmacists most popular for elderly healthcare

Professor Ngaire Kerse 

Nearly all participants (98 percent) in a recent study had seen a GP at some time in the last 12 months while more than 87 percent had seen a pharmacist, 46 percent a practice nurse and 53 percent an optometrist.

The research report for the Ministry of Health identifies the use of a wide range of primary health care professionals and services by people in advanced age.

It also explores whether there were differences in primary health care use between Māori and non-Māori, living within two different district health board areas.

The report is one in a series from data gathered for the Life and Living in Advanced Age: a Cohort Study in New Zealand—Te Puāwaitanga O Ngā Tapuwae Kia Ora Tonu (LiLACS NZ).*1

The study revealed that GP visits varied by the socio-economic deprivation of the area in which people lived, (although the differences were small). More people in the most socio-economically deprived areas visited the GP (99 percent) than those in the least deprived areas (96 percent).

The results also showed that more women in the most socio-economically deprived areas (99 percent) visited the GP than women in the least socio-economically deprived areas (95 percent).

Fewer Māori (77 percent) in advanced age reported that the doctor was excellent or very good at putting them at ease during their physical examination than did non-Māori (82 percent), adjusting for age and sex.

More non-Māori women (84 percent) reported that the doctor was excellent or very good at putting them at ease during their physical examination than Māori women (76 percent).

More Māori men (78 percent) reported that they had sufficient time with the doctor than non-Māori men (63 percent).

Reported satisfaction with their GP’s care and concern was overall high and did not vary according to the socio-economic deprivation of the area in which participants lived.

Pharmacist services were used by 87 percent of participants with fewer Maori (83 percent) visiting a pharmacist than non-Māori (90 percent), adjusting for age and sex. Fewer

Māori women (80 percent) visited a pharmacist than non-Māori women (91 percent). There were no significant differences in visits to the pharmacist by socio-economic deprivation.

Optometrist services were used by 53 percent of participants with more non-Māori (56 percent) than Māori (48 percent) who had seen the optometrist, (after adjusting for age, sex, and socio-economic deprivation).

Visits to an optometrist varied by level of socio-economic deprivation. More people in the most socio-economically deprived areas (54 percent) visited the optometrist than those living in the least socio-economically deprived areas (44 percent) adjusting for age, sex and ethnic group.

More non-Māori (62 percent) in the most socio-economically deprived areas visited an optometrist than non-Māori in the least deprived areas (45 percent), adjusting for age and sex.

Practice Nurses were visited by 46 percent of participants with 41 percent of Māori and 48 percent of non-Māori visiting the practice nurse. These visits to the practice nurse did not vary by sex, ethnic group, or socio-economic deprivation.

*1 Data was gathered in face-to-face, standardised interviews with Māori aged 80-90 and non-Māori aged 85 at home. Nursing assessments of physical function and cardio-respiratory health were also completed. The LiLACS NZ sample lives within the boundaries of the Bay of Plenty and Lakes District Health Boards, excluding the Taupo region of Lakes DHB. The participants were first interviewed and assessed in 2010 (the ‘first wave’ of data collection). This is a longitudinal study with annual data collection, subject to mortality and participant retention. This report was based on data from Wave 1 about primary health care services used by participants, and on data from Wave 2 about perceptions of their GP care.

For media enquiries email Suzi Phillips at this link.


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