Psychological distress, multimorbidity and health services among older adults in rural South Australia

Dennis Asante, Josephien H.M. Rio, Fiona Stanaway, Paul Worley, Vivian Isaac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Psychological distress may relate to higher health services use. However, data on psychological distress and health services use among rural older adults are limited. This study investigates psychological distress in older adults (aged ≥60) and evaluates the relationship between psychological distress, multimorbidity and health services utilization. Design: A cross-sectional design was adopted using data on older adults (≥60) (n = 5920) from the South Australia's 2013–2017 population health survey. The Modified Monash Model MM2–7 was used to designate rural areas. The dataset provides information on reported physical health conditions, psychological distress, and patterns of health services use. The Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) was used to compute scores for reported mental health disorders in this population. Results: The mean (SD) age of the study participants was 72.1 (8.1) years. Women constituted 58.8% of the sample. The mean (SD) score for psychological distress was 12.5 (3.6). One-fourth (33.7%) report one-chronic condition, 20.4% reported 2 chronic conditions and 13% had more than 3 chronic conditions. High psychological distress was associated with female gender (χ 2 = 14.4, p < 0.001), <80 years (χ 2 = 11.7, p = 0.019), lower education (χ 2 = 10.9, p = 0.027). Similarly, multimorbidity was associated with female gender (χ 2 = 51.1, p < 001), increasing age (χ 2 = 173.6, p < 0.001) and lower education (χ 2 = 28.8 p < 0.001). Psychological distress and multimorbidity were independently associated with health service use. High psychological distress was associated with general practitioner (GP) visit (odds ratio 3.6 (95% CI 2.6–5.1), p < 0.001), emergency department (ED) visit (odds ratio 2.5 (95% CI 1.2–5.0), p < 0.001) and hospital admission (odds ratio 2.3 (95% CI 1.3–4.3), p < 0.001). Multimorbidity was associated with general practitioner (GP) visit (odds ratio 6.8 (95% CI 5.6–8.3), p < 0.001), emergency department (ED) visit (odds ratio 2.5 (95% CI 1.4–4.3), p < 0.001) and hospital admission (odds ratio 3.1 (95% CI 1.9–5.1), p < 0.001). Model included age, gender, education, number of chronic condition and psychological distress. Conclusion/implication: Psychological distress and multimorbidity were independently associated with health services use. Thus, psychological distress, particularly in the presence of multimorbidity, presents an opportunity for intervention by clinicians that may reduce the demand on rural health services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-460
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume309
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2022

Keywords

  • Psychological distress
  • Multimorbidity
  • Older adults
  • Rural areas

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Psychological distress, multimorbidity and health services among older adults in rural South Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this