Dental service utilization among urban and rural older adults in China -- a brief communication.
OBJECTIVES: China's health care system is bifurcated in nature between rural and urban areas. In addition, there is a huge gap in socioeconomic status between rural and urban residents. The purpose of the study was to examine the factors related to dental visits among elders in rural and urban areas of Shanghai, China. METHODS: Using a stratified random sampling method, a cross-sectional, face-to-face survey was conducted among elders aged 60 years and above in Shanghai during 2003-04. A total of 1,044 older respondents were included in the sample. RESULTS: There was a significant urban and rural difference in dental visit rates over the 12-month period of the study. Results from the logistic regression analysis suggested that residing in urban areas was a significant positive factor related to dental visits. In addition, being younger, being able to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses, having had regular medical checkups, having a higher number of limitations because of chronic conditions, and being more concerned about eating a healthy diet were associated with increased odds of dental visits. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that urban-rural differences, as reflected in the socioeconomic status gap, disparity in medical insurance coverage, and access to dental care, have a significant impact on the use of dental services by Chinese elders. Individual sociodemographic characteristics, health status, and health attitude are important explanatory variables.
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