Economic crisis has made Europeans and Americans less likely to visit the doctor

February 4, 2014

The global economic crisis has wrought havoc to economies on both sides of the Atlantic, but new research in Social Science Quarterly suggests it has also made both North Americans and Europeans more reluctant to seek out routine medical care.

"The , weakened national economies and household finances globally," said Dr. Annamaria Lusardi from George Washington University. "These economic conditions can have effects in many areas, including health."

Dr. Lusardi's team turned to the TNS Global Economic Crisis Survey to identify differences in how adults aged between 18 and 65 from United States, Great Britain, Canada, France, and Germany, used health care systems post-2007.

The survey, which accounted for 6,485 respondents, was comprised of 2,148 respondents in the United States, 1,001 in Great Britain, 1,132 in Canada, 1,097 in France, and 1,107 in Germany.

The results showed that the decision to seek care is constrained by financial resources and that the , having reduced personal incomes, has in turn reduced use of care.

More than a quarter, 26.5 percent, of American respondents have reduced their use of routine medical care since the economic crisis. This was a greater amount than the 5.6 percent of Canadians, 7.6 percent of Britons, 10.3 percent of Germans, or the 12 percent of French respondents.

As a nation lacking universal healthcare, it may come as no surprise that the reduction is greater in the U.S. However, the authors show that even in European nations with more inclusive health care systems, additional costs such as prescriptions are deterring the public from seeking routine care.

Explore further: US health care lags behind other affluent countries, study finds

More information: Annamaria Lusardi, Daniel Schneider and Peter Tufano, "The Economic Crisis and Medical Care Use: Comparative Evidence from Five High-Income Countries", Social Science Quarterly, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/ssqu.12076

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