Online Program

Challenges and barriers to preventive behaviors in Alaskan older adults: Evidence from a national survey

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 2:54 p.m. - 3:06 p.m.

Steven A. Cohen, DrPH, MPH, Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, VA
Kenneth K. H. Chui, PhD, MS/MPH, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
Caroline Orr, M.A., M.S., Department of Social and Behavioral Health, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
From 1970 to 2010, the Alaskan population increased from 302,583 to 698,473. During that time, the growth rate of Alaskan seniors (65+) was four times higher than their national counterparts'. Aging in Alaska requires confronting unique environmental, sociodemographic, and infrastructural challenges, including an extreme climate, geographic isolation, and less developed health care infrastructure compared to the continental US. The objectives of this analysis are to compare the health needs of Alaskan seniors to those in the continental US. We abstracted 180,685 records of individuals age 60+ from the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), of which 621 were Alaska residents. To compare Alaskans to non-Alaskans, we used generalized linear models which allowed us to adjust for demographic differences and survey weighting procedures. We examined three primary outcomes—general health status, health care coverage status, and length of time since last routine checkup. After adjusting for age, sex, BMI, and socioeconomic status, Alaskan seniors were 16.1% (95% CI: 12.7, 19.5%) less likely to have any health care coverage, 39.6% (38.7, 40.6%) less likely to have had a routine checkup in the past year, and 6.2% (4.3, 8.1%) less likely to report excellent health status than comparable seniors in the continental US. Given the growth rate of Alaskan seniors and inherent health care challenges this vulnerable population faces, future research should examine the specific pathways through which these disparities occur and inform policies to ensure that all US seniors, regardless of geographic location, have access to high quality health services.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Environmental health sciences
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
List and profile unique health care barriers and challenges in Alaskan seniors. Compare and contrast preventive behaviors in Alaskan seniors to those seniors living in the continental United States.

Keyword(s): Rural Populations, Elderly

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract Author on the content I am responsible for because I have designed and analyzed the data for the study presented in this abstract. I also have eight years experience conducting research on older adults.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 3316.0: Rural Aging Issues