Original Article: PDF OnlyHurwicz Margo-Lea PhD; Berkanovic, Emil PhDMedical Care: November 1991 - p 1130-1145 Buy Abstract Responses to episodes of musculoskeletal illness, musculoskeletal injury, and respiratory illness are examined separately. Data are from a 1-year longitudinal study of the illness experiences of 885 Medicare recipients. Unlike studies examining aggregate use of medical services, this study examines both episodes for which medical care was sought and episodes for which no medical care was sought. Both factors associated with the decision to seek medical care for each type of episode and the illness response patterns associated with whether medical care is sought are analyzed. The three types of episode have different characteristics and profiles of illness response. Perceived seriousness and duration of the episode are the best predictors of physician visits for all episode types. However, the relative effect of predisposing and need variables on the decision to seek medical care is greatest for musculoskeletal illness episodes. These data also bear on the relationship between self-care, informal care, and the use of formal medical care. Use of nonprescription medications is shown to substitute for medical care in a significant number of illness episodes. Lay consultation and restricted activity are often linked with physician visits; however, they cannot be assumed to precede care seeking. The analytic strategy of examining responses to specific types of episodes suggests that both characteristics of the person and characteristics of the illness affect how people respond to illnesses and that the relative importance of each type of characteristic is specific to each illness type. Implications of these findings for health education are discussed. © Lippincott-Raven Publishers.