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Fam Med. 2009 Feb;41(2):126-33.

Patient age influences perceptions about health care communication.

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Department of Family Medicine, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR 97239, USA.



The study's objective was to determine if a patient's age is independently associated with how he/she perceives interactions with health care providers.


We used a secondary, cross-sectional analysis of nationally representative data from the 2002 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). We measured the independent association between patient age and six outcomes pertaining to communication and decision-making autonomy, while simultaneously controlling for gender, race, ethnicity, family income, educational attainment, census region, rural residence, insurance status, and usual source of care.


Compared to patients>or=65 years, patients ages 18-64 were less likely to report that their provider "always" listened to them, "always" showed respect for what they had to say, and "always" spent enough time with them.


Patient perceptions of health care interactions vary by age. A better understanding of how and why age is associated with patient-provider communication could be useful to design practice-level interventions that enhance services and also to develop national policies that improve health care delivery and health outcomes.

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