Patterns of perceived barriers to medical care in older adults: a latent class analysis. Academic Article uri icon


  • This study examined multiple dimensions of healthcare access in order to develop a typology of perceived barriers to healthcare access in community-dwelling elderly. Secondary aims were to define distinct classes of older adults with similar perceived healthcare access barriers and to examine predictors of class membership to identify risk factors for poor healthcare access.A sample of 5,465 community-dwelling elderly was drawn from the 2004 wave of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. Perceived barriers to healthcare access were measured using items from the Group Health Association of America Consumer Satisfaction Survey. We used latent class analysis to assess the constellation of items measuring perceived barriers in access and multinomial logistic regression to estimate how risk factors affected the probability of membership in the latent barrier classes.Latent class analysis identified four classes of older adults. Class 1 (75% of sample) consisted of individuals with an overall low level of risk for perceived access problems (No Barriers). Class 2 (5%) perceived problems with the availability/accessibility of healthcare providers such as specialists or mental health providers (Availability/Accessibility Barriers). Class 3 (18%) perceived problems with how well their providers' operations arise organized to accommodate their needs and preferences (Accommodation Barriers). Class 4 (2%) perceived problems with all dimension of access (Severe Barriers). Results also revealed that healthcare affordability is a problem shared by members of all three barrier groups, suggesting that older adults with perceived barriers tend to face multiple, co-occurring problems. Compared to those classified into the No Barriers group, those in the Severe Barrier class were more likely to live in a rural county, have no health insurance, have depressive symptomatology, and speech limitations. Those classified into the Availability/Accessibility Barriers group were more likely to live in rural and micropolitan counties, have depressive symptomatology, more chronic conditions, and hearing limitations. Those in the Accommodation group were more likely to have depressive symptomatology and cognitive limitations.The current study identified a typology of perceived barriers in healthcare access in older adults. The identified risk factors for membership in perceived barrier classes could potentially assist healthcare organizations and providers with targeting polices and interventions designed to improve access in their most vulnerable older adult populations, particularly those in rural areas, with functional disabilities, or in poor mental health.

publication date

  • August 2011