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An econometric analysis of cognitive impairment and healthcare utilization in the ageing population

Brenda Gannon, James Banks, James Nazroo and Luke Munford

Applied Economics, 2018, vol. 50, issue 50, 5454-5463

Abstract: The ageing population is a major concern for policy makers, with the ever-increasing strains placed on health budgets. One overlooked area of research is the impact that cognitive impairment (an early marker of potential dementia onset) has on the healthcare utilization of an ageing population. Based on the theoretical micro-economic foundations of healthcare demand, we study the relationship between cognitive functioning and impairment, measured by word recall and changes thereof, and healthcare utilization among over 50s in nine European countries. The contribution of this article is to produce estimates for cognitive functioning and impairment, as opposed to full dementia, in the context of healthcare utilization.We apply regression models to healthcare utilization data from Waves 1, 2 and 4 of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe and find that recalling one additional word is associated with a reduction in visits to a medical doctor of 0.32, per year (p<0.01). Even after controlling for self-assessed health, this association is strong at just over 0.1 visits – this is the additional impact, over and above the average number of visits for similar individuals without cognitive impairment.

Date: 2018
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DOI: 10.1080/00036846.2018.1486996

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