Health for community dwelling older people : trends, inequalities, needs and care in rural Vietnam
Abstract: Background InVietnam, the proportion of people aged 60 and above has increased rapidly in recent decades. The majority live in rural areas where socioeconomic status is more disadvantaged than in urban areas.Vietnam’s economic status is improving but disparities in income and living conditions are widening between groups and regions. A consistent and emerging danger of communicable diseases and an increase of non-communicable diseases exist concurrently. The emigration of young people and the impact of other socioeconomic changes leave more elderly on their own and with less family support. Introduction of user fees and development of a private sector improve the coverage and quality of health care but increase household health expenditures and inequalities in health care. Life expectancy at birth has increased, but not much is known about changes during old age. There is a lack of evidence, particularly in rural settings, about health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among older people within the context of socioeconomic changes and health-sector reform. Knowledge of long-term elderly care needs in the community and the relevant models are still limited. To provide evidence for developing new policies and models of care, this thesis aimed to assess general health status, health care needs, and perspectives on future health care options for community-dwelling older people. Methods An abridged life table was used to estimate cohort life expectancies at old age from longitudinal data collected by FilaBavi DSS during 1999-2006. This covered 7,668 people aged 60 and above with 43,272 person-years. A 2007 cross-sectional survey was conducted among people aged 60 and over living in 2,240 households that were randomly selected from the FilaBavi DSS. Interviews used a structured questionnaire to assess HRQoL, daily care needs, and willingness to use and to pay for models of care. Participant and household socioeconomic characteristics were extracted from the 2007 DSS re-census. Differences in life expectancy are examined by socioeconomic factors. The EQ-5D index is calculated based on the time trade-off tariff. Distributions of study subjects by study variables are described with 95% confidence intervals. Multivariate analyses are performed to identify socioeconomic determinants of HRQoL, need of support, ADL index, and willingness to use and pay for models of care. In addition, four focus group discussions with the elderly, their household members, and community association representatives were conducted to explore perspectives on the use of services by applying content analysis. Results Life expectancy at age 60 increased by approximately one year from 1999-2002 to 2003-2006, but tended to decrease in the most vulnerable groups. There is a wide gap in life expectancy by poverty status and living arrangement. The sex gap in life expectancy is consistent across all socioeconomic groups and is wider among the more disadvantaged populations. The EQ-5D index at old age is 0.876. Younger age groups, position as household head, working, literacy, and belonging to better wealth quintiles are determinants of higher HRQoL. Ageing has a primary influence on HRQoL that is mainly due to reduction in physical (rather than mental) functions. Being a household head and working at old age are advantageous for attaining better HRQoL in physical rather than psychological terms. Economic conditions affect HRQoL through sensory rather than physical functions. Long-term living conditions are more likely to affect HRQoL than short-term economic conditions. Dependence in instrumental or intellectual activities of daily living (ADLs) is more common than in basic ADLs. People who need complete help are fewer than those who need some help in almost all ADLs. Over two-fifths of people who needed help received enough support in all ADL dimensions. Children and grand-children are confirmed to be the main caregivers. Presence of chronic illness, age groups, sex, educational level, marital status, household membership, working status, household size, living arrangement, residential area, household wealth, and poverty status are determinants of the need for care. Use of mobile teams is the most requested service; the fewest respondents intend to use a nursing centre. Households expect to use services for their elderly to a greater extent than did the elderly themselves. Willingness to use services decreases when potential fees increase. The proportion of respondents who require free services is 2 to 3 times higher than those willing to pay full cost. Households are willing to pay more for day care and nursing centres than are the elderly. The elderly are more willing to pay for mobile teams than are their households. ADL index, age group, sex, literacy, marital status, living arrangement, head of household status, living area, working status, poverty and household wealth are factors related to willingness to use services. Conclusions There is a trend of increasing life expectancy at older ages in ruralVietnam. Inequalities in life expectancy exist between socioeconomic groups. HRQoL at old age is at a high level, but varies substantially according to socioeconomic factors. An unmet need of daily care for older people remains. Family is the main source of support for care. Need for care is in more demand among disadvantaged groups. Development of a social network for community-based long-term elderly care is needed. The network should focus on instrumental and intellectual ADLs rather than basic ADLs. Home-based care is more essential than institutionalized care. Community-based elderly care will be used and partly paid for if it is provided by the government or associations. The determinants of elderly health and care needs should be addressed by appropriate social and health policies with greater targeting of the poorest and most disadvantaged groups. Building capacity for health professionals and informal caregivers, as well as support for the most vulnerable elderly groups, is essential for providing and assessing the services.
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