This study examines multidimensional social supports as predictors of health services utilization among community-dwelling older Ghanaians. Method: Using data from a 2016/2017 Aging, Health, Psychological Wellbeing and Health-Seeking Behavior Study (N = 1,200), Poisson regression models estimated the associations of aspects of informal social support and health facility utilization among older people. Results: Findings suggest that regular contacts with family/close friends (odds ratio [OR] = 1.299; 95% confidence interval [CI] = [1.111, 1.519]), social participation (OR = 1.021; 95% CI = [1.140, 1.910]), and remittances from adult children (OR = 1.091; 95%CI = [1.086, 1.207]) were associated with increased health services utilization with some gender variations. Having caregivers increased health care use generally (OR = 1.108; 95% CI = [1.016, 1.209]) and among men (OR = 1.181; 95% CI = [1.015, 1.373]). However, we found decrease in health care use among those who received pecuniary assistance (OR = 0.893; 95% CI = [0.805, 0.990]). Discussion: Perceived structural and functional social support domains appear influential in health care utilization among older adults in Ghana. The findings underscore the need for intervention programs and social policies targeted at both micro-factors and wider social factors, including the novel area of remittances to older adults.
Bibliographical noteThe authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by Lingnan University, Hong Kong [RPG 1129310]. The funders, however, played no role in designing the study, collecting and analyzing data, manuscript preparation, and the decision to publish the manuscript.
- health care utilization
- informal social support
- older persons
- social participation