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Long-Term Women's Health Considerations

Health care considerations become increasingly important as women age. Over the past 20 years, a substantial body of research has addressed women's health issues; however, these investigations have not compared data across age groups.

This study attempted to document the specific health care needs of women as they age, including universal issues that cut across age groups. Women were categorized into one of four groups: young adults (aged 18-29); adult women (30-44 years); mid-life women (45-64 years); and elderly women (65 years and older). Data were analyzed from the Commonwealth Fund 1998 survey of women's health and presented in a similar fashion for each age group.

The authors noted many important issues emerging from their investigation:

  • Poor and uninsured women experience some of the worst access problems in the health care system, although they often have the most need because of their generally poorer health status.
  • Across all age groups, there was a high level of depressive symptoms reported, confirming the need for adequate access to mental health-related services and programs to handle stress.
  • A distinct pattern of increasing chronic conditions was noticed, beginning in middle age (aged 45-64) and persisting into old age.
  • Management and coordination of health care for elderly women should be a priority.
  • Persistent smoking is the number one cause of morbidity and mortality.
  • Changes in welfare law that include time limits on benefits and welfare diversion programs may further depress access to coverage through Medicaid.
  • In all non-elderly groups, efforts need to be focused on the high uninsured rates of women.
  • Younger age groups generally have worse problems with access to care than those in older groups.

The authors conclude: "The system of health care works unevenly for women. Facilitating access to the health care system is only a part of the process of improving the health of women. The process and quality of care that a woman receives once in the health care system, and any barriers to that treatment, are important areas for continued research."

Wyn R, Solis B. Women's health issues across the lifespan. Women's Health Issues 2001:11(3), pp148-159.

 



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Date Last Modified - Monday, 27-Jul-2009 09:14:19 PDT