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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1996 Jul;44(7):769-77.

Attitudes toward use of nursing homes and home care in older Japanese-Americans.

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University of Washington Department of Medicine, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle 98104, USA.



A cohort of 1142 older Japanese Americans was identified to study preferences and attitudes regarding use of long-term care (nursing home or home care).


Prospective cohort study.


Older Japanese Americans in King County, Washington.


Subjects were asked to consider hypothetical situations in which they were temporarily disabled by hip fracture or permanently disabled by dementing illness. If they fractured a hip, only 12% intended to use a nursing home; 29% intended to recover at home with the help of family or friends; another 54% intended to use paid home health care. If they became demented, the majority (53%) intended to use a nursing home; only 11% intended to rely on family or friends for care, and another 29% intended to use paid home health care. Similar responses were observed when subjects were asked what most members of their family or friends would wish them to do; however, they tended to value the perceived wishes of religious figures or the Japanese American community-at-large less than those of family or friends. Significant correlates with intention to enter nursing homes were lack of social support (unmarried, few or no close relatives or housemates), female gender, and high levels of acculturation into American society (never lived in Japan, English-speaking only). Other factors that were not significantly correlated were health perceptions, satisfaction and life control scales, and health care utilization (hospitalizations and MD visits). In multivariate logistic regression, marital status and level of acculturation were the most powerful independent predictors of intention to enter nursing homes. Age and female gender were predictors of intention to use home care. In the base population of subjects, the prevalence of nursing homes use (5%) was similar to that of the general US older population.


We conclude that older Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest often intend to enter nursing homes if they became disabled by dementing illness. Actual use is similar to other older populations. This may be attributable largely to the existence of an ethically appropriate nursing home which is strongly supported by, and familiar to, this close-knit community. Intention to use long-term care services appears to be dependent primarily on the level of social supports and acculturation into American society.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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