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Med Care. 2000 Jun;38(6):638-46.

Demographic predictors of eye care utilization among women.

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Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.



Visual impairment may be preventable or treatable with timely intervention. Differences in the use of eye care services may play a role in fostering the racial and socioeconomic gap in the burden of visual impairment in the United States.


The objective of this study was to examine the frequency of eye examinations in women and how this varies with age, race, marital status, geographic region, profession, education, and income.


We used logistic regression models to examine data obtained by mailed questionnaires from 39,876 female health professionals participating in the Women's Health Study.


Most women (83%) had an eye examination within the past 2 years. The likelihood of having an eye examination in the past 2 years increased with age (odds ratio [OR] = 2.59 for age > or =75 years versus those <50 years; P [trend] <0.0001), higher education (OR = 1.27 for master's degree versus licensed nurse training; P [trend] = 0.0004), and higher household income (OR = 1.85 for > or =$100,000 versus <$10,000; P [trend] <0.0001). Women from the south were less likely to have had an eye examination than those from the west (OR = 0.92; P = 0.03). Compared with whites, Asian/Pacific Islanders were less likely (OR = 0.76; P = 0.02) and blacks more likely (OR = 1.27; P = 0.02) to have had an eye examination within 2 years.


Age, education, income, race/ethnicity, and region of residence were independent predictors of having had an eye examination in the past 2 years. Known medical and ocular problems appeared to explain the association with age but not the other findings, although the clinical significance of these associations was not determined in the present study. Additional research on determinants of eye care-seeking behavior could help in devising new strategies to encourage preventive behaviors, especially among groups at higher risk of visual impairment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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