Sociodemographic inequality in joint-pain medication use among community-dwelling older adults in Israel

Aviad Tur-Sinai, Jennifer Shuldiner, Netta Bentur
Health & Social Care in the Community 2019 April 10
Joint pain is a common experience among adults aged 65 and over. Although pain management is multifaceted, medication is essential in it. The paper examines the use of medication among older adults with joint pain in Israel and asks whether socioeconomic factors are associated with this usage. The data, harvested, from the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), include 1,294 randomly selected community-dwelling individuals aged 65 and over in Israel. Bivariate analysis and logistic regression are used to identify factors associated with the presence of joint pain medication use. About 38% of respondents report experiencing joint pain and 45% of those who so report are not taking prescription medication. Back pain is the most common location, reported by 64% of individuals who report joint pain. Taking medication is independently associated with younger age (OR = 0.965, 95% CI = 0.939-0.991), more education (OR = 1.044, 95% CI = 0.998-1.091), and better ability to cope economically (OR = 1.964, 95% CI = 1.314-2.936). However, older age and ability to cope economically are independently associated with women (OR = 0.964, 95% CI = 0.932-0.998 and OR = 2.438, 95% CI = 1.474-4.032, respectively) but not with men. It is suggested that socioeconomic inequality exists in healthcare access among adults aged 65 and over. Since income and gender are strongly associated with taking pain medication, physicians should follow-up on women and less affluent people to ensure that medication prescribed has been obtained. Policymakers should consider programs that would facilitate better access to pain medication among vulnerable older individuals.

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