UW, AARP Survey Shows Cost of Health Care is Barrier to Older Wyoming Residents

February 1, 2010

Nearly one in five Wyoming residents age 50 and older skipped needed medical care at least once in the past two years, according to a survey released today by the University of Wyoming's Geriatric Education Center (WyGEC) and AARP.

The survey also found that even though patients are skipping necessary medical visits and seeking more health-related information online, 73 percent of respondents said their doctor is the most helpful source of information. And, one in three survey respondents said they would like to be able to communicate with their physician by email.

"This study was an opportunity for the Geriatric Education Center to find out if what we're teaching health care workers is making a difference in the lives and health of our older state residents," WyGEC Director Deb Fleming says. "Since we also provide health literacy training, we wanted to better understand how older Wyoming residents get their health information and learn more about whom they trust to provide that information."

Three-quarters or more of Wyoming survey respondents say their doctors and health care providers should speak more openly about options for care (79 percent), inform them about potential complications of side effects and what to do if these occur (76 percent), and encourage them to ask questions (74 percent) in order to help them make better decisions about their own health care.

About a quarter (24 percent) of Wyoming residents who have had recent experience with a health care facility and did not receive any patient care plan follow-up after leaving the facility say that they, or a family member or friend, were re-admitted to the hospital or care center within three months to be treated for the same condition.

"These findings clearly indicate the need for doctors and their patients to speak more clearly and openly about their care," AARP Wyoming Director Tim Summers said. 
More than 1,500 Wyoming residents age 50 and older responded to the mail survey. The full survey results are available at www.aarp.org/research/surveys/care/health/qoc/articles/wy_healthinfo.html.

About UW

The University of Wyoming is the state's only provider of baccalaureate and graduate education, research, and outreach services. UW has more than 180 programs of study, world-class research facilities and faculty, and is located in southeastern Wyoming's rugged mountains and high plains. The university also maintains the UW/Casper College Center, nine outreach education centers across Wyoming, and Cooperative Extension Service centers in each of the state's 23 counties and on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

About AARP

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with more than 35.5 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's 40 million members and Americans 50+; AARP Segunda Juventud, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our Web site, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors.

For more information, call Joanne Bowlby, AARP Wyoming, (307) 432-5802; or Fleming, (307) 766-2719.


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