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Decomposition of income-related inequality in health check-ups services participation among elderly individuals across the 2008 financial crisis in Taiwan

Chiao-Lee Chu and Nozuko Lawana

PLOS ONE, 2021, vol. 16, issue 6, 1-14

Abstract: Encouraging citizens to use health checkup services is a health promotion strategy. In nations with aging populations, ensuring equitable use of health check-ups by senior citizens is a public health concern. The objective of this research was to quantify income-related inequality and its effect on the use of health checkup services in Taiwan during the 2007–2008 global financial crisis. We used the 2005 and 2009 datasets of the Taiwan National Health Interview Surveys to assess how income-related inequality influenced health check-up use among older adults in Taiwan during the 2007–2008 financial crisis. Corrected concentration indices (CCIs) were calculated and decomposed to determine the influences of explanatory variables. The dependent variable was whether participants had used free senior health check-ups in the past year, and the determinant factors were health behavior, health situation, socioeconomic and demographic factors, and area health care resources accessibility factors. The study assessed 2,460 older adults from the 2005 dataset and 2,514 such individuals from the 2009 dataset. The utilization of health check-ups increased from 21.6% in 2005 to 34.0% in 2009. Income-related inequality in the use of health check-up services was generally tilted toward the higher income individuals among both women and men in 2005 and 2009, and income-related inequality decreased among women group and increased among men group with non significantly from 2005 to 2009 (women: CCI decreased from.0738 in 2005 to.0658 in 2009; men: CCI increased from.1068 in 2005 to.1256 in 2009). We analyzed the effect of explanatory factors on men’s and women’s intention to use health check-ups by using a probit model. After controlling for other factors, we determined that income significantly influenced women’s health check-up service use in 2005 and men’s in 2005 and 2009. Positive health behavior significantly increased health check-up services use among men and women group after the financial crisis, and negative health behavior significantly reduced health check-ups use among men across financial crisis. The 2008 global financial crisis strengthened the effect on health check-ups use of income-related inequality of elderly men, especially in older adults with negative health behaviors. Elderly men with negative health behaviors tended to contribute more income-related inequality in use health check-up services after the financial crisis. Health promotion initiatives should focus their efforts on elderly men with negative health behaviors.

Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0252942

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