Correlates of medical service utilization among people with HIV infection

J A Fleishman, D C Hsia, F J Hellinger
Health Services Research 1994, 29 (5): 527-48

OBJECTIVE: To examine factors affecting the use of inpatient, outpatient, and emergency room services by people with HIV infection.

DATA SOURCES AND STUDY SETTING: Study participants are adults with HIV infection receiving services at major providers of medical care in ten U.S. cities. Six interviews were conducted over an 18-month period (March 1991 to September 1992).

DATA COLLECTION METHODS: Data on service utilization, personal background characteristics, insurance status, and functional status are based on self-report. Disease stage is based on medical record data.

STUDY DESIGN: This is an observational study using a panel survey design. Linear and Poisson regression analyses were conducted to determine the effects of need, enabling, and predisposing factors on the dependent variables of ambulatory visits, emergency room visits, inpatient admissions, and average length of inpatient stay. Analyses use 1,449 respondents who completed the second and third interviews. Independent variables were measured as of the second interview, while dependent variables were measured in the third and fourth interview periods.

PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Service utilization was higher among respondents with AIDS than among those at earlier stages of HIV infection. Functional limitations, experienced pain, and negative mood each were associated with increased service use, over and above disease stage. Black respondents reported more hospital admissions and longer lengths of inpatient stays than white respondents. Lack of insurance was related to reduced service use. The effects of disease stage and functional limitations were reduced among people with public, compared to private, insurance.

CONCLUSIONS: While disease stage affects use of medical care, the experience of adverse HIV-related conditions, such as pain or functional limitations, has an additional effect on service use. Persistent racial differences in utilization remain to be explained. Lack of insurance impedes use directly and also modifies the effects of disease stage and functioning.

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