Healthcare: The personality factor

Studies have provided valuable information on how socioeconomic factors influence how people access healthcare. A new study published in The Milbank Quarterly, however, investigates if personality affects how older adults avail themselves to acute and long-term care services.

The study used data from 1,074 seniors participating in a Medicare demonstration. They completed a self-reporting questionnaire. Responses to questions on five personality traits—neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness—were analyzed by researchers.

The study also analyzed seven costly healthcare services (custodial home care, home-based skilled nurse and therapist care, nursing home care, skilled nursing care, hospital-based rehab, hospital stays and emergency department visits.

“It is important for healthcare systems to recognize that personality characteristics are associated with how individuals use healthcare services,” said the study’s lead author Bruce Friedman, MPH, PhD, and associate professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center Department of Public Health Sciences in an article.

By showing how personality affects healthcare choices, individuals may be directed to less expensive services.

Topics: Clinical