VOLUME 53 | NUMBER 2 | APRIL 2015
The Longitudinal Association between Psychological Factors and Health Care Use
Objective: Little attention has been given to psychological factors as correlates of health care use, which could be an important key to manage it. We analyzed the association of psychological factors with health care use.
Data Sources: Primary data were obtained from three followups (2002, 2008, and 2011) of a large populationbased study with participants aged 40+.
Study Design: Using a longitudinal observational study, we analyzed the psychological factors of negative and positive affect (affective wellbeing), life satisfaction (cognitive wellbeing), selfefficacy, loneliness, selfesteem, optimism, and flexible goal adjustment using fixedeffects regressions.
Data Collection: The participants provided data on health care use (visits to general practitioners [GPs] and specialists as well as hospitalization) and psychological factors via selfadministered questionnaires and personal interviews (7,116 observations). The sample was drawn using national probability sampling.
Principal Findings: Controlling for selfrated health, chronic diseases and sociodemographics, increases in affective wellbeing, and optimism decreased health care use of GPs, specialists, and hospital treatment. Increases in cognitive wellbeing decreased health care use of GPs and specialists. Increases in selfefficacy decreased hospitalization.
Conclusions: The study underlines the influence of psychological factors on health care use. Thus, whenever possible, future studies of health care use should include psychological factors, and efforts to reduce health care use might focus on such factors.
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