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Marital status and its relation to the use of short-stay hospitals and nursing homes.

  • W F Lewis
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1984
  • Medicine


Marital status has been associated with a wide variety of health indices and health practices. To better understand the relation of marital status to use of health facilities, discharge data from two surveys conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics--the 1979 National Hospital Discharge Survey and the 1976 National Nursing Home Survey--were examined by marital status, sex, age, diagnosed condition, and, for nursing home data, source of payment. For the four marital status categories considered in this analysis (married, never married, separated and divorced, and widowed), married and never married persons had the lowest overall discharge rates and widowed persons had the highest. Among men in each of the categories, those less than 45 years of age had the lowest rates, while never married and widowed men 45 and older generally had the highest rates. Among persons 45 years of age and older, the married-especially women-had the lowest rates and the never married-especially men-had the highest rates. A consistent finding was that, for never married persons, rates of use for both short-stay hospitals and nursing homes, as measured by discharge rates, increased to a greater degree with age than they did for the other marital groups. The possible reasons for the difference in use of health facilities by the different marital groups are discussed and the importance of marital status as a determinant of such use is stressed.

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