Delayed medical care has negative health and economic consequences; interventions have focused on appraising symptoms, with limited success in reducing delay.
To identify predictors of care avoidance and reasons for avoiding care.
Using the Health Information National Trends Survey (2007), we conducted logistic regressions to identify predictors of avoiding medical visits deemed necessary by the respondents; and, we then conducted similar analyses on reasons given for avoidance behavior. Independent variables included geographic, demographic, socioeconomic, personal health, health behavior, health care system, and cognitive characteristics.
Approximately one third of adults avoided doctor visits they had deemed necessary. Although unadjusted associations existed, avoiding needed care was not independently associated with geographic, demographic, and socioeconomic characteristics. Avoidance behavior is characterized by low health self-efficacy, less experience with both quality care and getting help with uncertainty about health, having your feelings attended to by your provider, no usual source of care, negative affect, smoking daily, and fatalistic attitude toward cancer. Reasons elicited for avoidance include preference for self-care or alternative care, dislike or distrust of doctors, fear or dislike of medical treatments, time, and money; respondents also endorsed discomfort with body examinations, fear of having a serious illness, and thoughts of dying. Distinct predictors distinguish each of these reasons.
Interventions to reduce patient delay could be improved by addressing the health-related behavioral, belief, experiential, and emotional traits associated with delay. Attention should also be directed toward the interpersonal communications between patients and providers.