Health Care Advocacy
The Relationships between Age, Chronicity, Comorbidity, and Perceived Need for Assistance
Background and Purpose: The U.S. population is living longer; therefore, a relatively large proportion of the population is likely to experience chronic illnesses within their lifetime. An experimental study was conducted to examine factors influencing the likelihood of hiring a Health Care Advocate (HCA). Methods: Survey data were collected from a randomly selected community sample of participants (N = 470) over the age of 18 who were provided with a description of an HCA and a written vignette describing a medical scenario. Participants read one of eight vignettes in which they were asked to imagine they were in a car accident and required medical care. Age, injury (chronic vs. acute), and presence of comorbid chronic condition were manipulated. Results: A significant interaction indicated that when there was no pre-existing chronic health condition, sustaining a chronic injury increased the likelihood of hiring an HCA. In addition, younger adults with comorbid conditions were perceived as having greater need for an HCA than younger adults without comorbid conditions. Older adults were perceived as benefiting from HCAs regardless of comorbid conditions. Conclusion: This study demonstrates the need for patient-centered support for older adults following an injury, and for younger adults when a pre-existing chronic condition exists. Efforts should be made to target services to these populations of interest.