Morbidity Patterns and Health Care Seeking Behavior among Older Widows in India

Gopal Agrawal, Kunal Keshri

PLOS ONE April 2014


In the process of health transition, India is facing rapid pace of demographic aging. Rapid increase in older adult population posed serious concerns regarding health and health care utilization for them. However, very limited research documented resultant implications of demographic aging for health and health care use in the nexus of marital status and gender. With this perspective, the present study examined patterns in morbidity prevalence and health seeking behaviour among older widows in India. Multivariate logistic regression models were estimated to examine the effects of socio-demographic conditions on morbidity prevalence among older widows and their health care seeking behavior. Data from the latest 60th round of National Sample Survey (NSS), 2004 was used. Overall, morbidity prevalence was 13% greater among older widows compared to older widowers. Adjusted prevalence of communicable and non-communicable diseases was found 74 and 192 per 1000 older widows respectively. At the same time, likelihood of seeking health care services for reported morbidities was substantially lower among older widows. The findings of this study are important to support policy makers and health care providers in identifying individuals ‘at risk’ and could be integrated into the current programs of social, economic and health security for the older persons.