Determinants of Healthcare Utilization among Older Adults in Igbeagu Community, Ebonyi State Nigeria
Effective healthcare service and healthcare utilization are a sine qua non for healthy living and successful aging among the older adults. This study utilized a cross sectional survey design to explore the socio-cultural factors that influence healthcare utilization among older adults in Igbeagu community of Ebonyi state Nigeria. Data for the study were both quantitative and qualitative, obtained by means of questionnaire and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). A total of 397 respondents aged 60 years and above took part in the questionnaire study. Respondents were drawn using multi-stage sampling (simple random sampling (SRS) and cluster sampling). Two gender-balanced FGDs were conducted for different, but, homogeneous groups in a culturally appropriate setting, chosen by the participants themselves, and on a non-market and festival-free day. The FGD participants were drawn from older adults within the inclusion criteria, using Snowball sampling technique. Quantitative data were analysed using SPSS version 20.0, while tables and bar charts were used for data presentation. Hypotheses were tested using X2 statistic at 0.05 alpha level. Results indicate that 53.9% of the respondents have more preference for traditional medicine, 31.2% use both traditional and orthodox medicine, while only 14.9% have preference for orthodox medicine. Comments from the FGDs indicate that their preference hinged on factors like assumed cause of disease, assumed efficacy of treatment option, cost, distance, as well as attitude of care-givers and healthcare providers. It was recommended that healthcare services be subsidised for the elderly ones especially in the rural areas. Again, there is a need to provide and/or equip healthcare centres in the rural communities to mitigate the impact of moving a long distance to access healthcare facilities. Finally, it is imperative that care-givers and the general public be enlightened on the need to accord older adults their respect by discussing with them a treatment option before embarking on such treatment so that these older adults will be part of decision that concerns their own health.