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Open Access Research article

The use of annual physical examinations among the elderly in rural China: a cross-sectional study

Xi Sun1, Yingchun Chen1, Xuetao Tong1, Zhanchun Feng1*, Li Wei2, Donghua Zhou1, Miaomiao Tian3, Benyan Lv1 and Da Feng1

Author Affiliations

1 Medicine and Health Management School, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, 13 Hangkong Rd., Wuhan, Hubei 430030, PRC

2 Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, 1227 Jiefang Rd, Wuhan, Hubei 430022, PRC

3 Institute of Medical Information, Center for Health Policy and Management, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, 3 Yabao Rd, Chaoyang, Beijing 100020, PRC

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:16  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-16

Published: 14 January 2014

Abstract

Background

Periodic physical examination is considered helpful in preventing illness and promoting health among the elderly. Limited information is available about the use of annual physical examinations among the elderly in rural areas, however. This research explores the distribution characteristics of annual physical examination use and its determinants among people aged 60 or over in rural China.

Methods

A cross-sectional study was undertaken to estimate distribution characteristics of annual physical examination use and to collect data of sociodemographic characteristics, health knowledge level, and health communication channels. Participants were 1128 people aged 60 or over, randomly selected from four different provinces in the East, Mid-East, Mid-West, and West China. Logistic regression determined the predictors of annual physical examination use.

Results

Participants were predominantly aged 60–79 (44.1%) and 70–79 (42.0%). A total of 716 (63.5%) participants underwent annual physical examinations. Those who reported acquiring health knowledge via bulletin boards and village doctors had a higher probability of using annual physical examinations (OR = 3.15 and 1.53). The probability for civil servants/retired having annual physical examinations was 2.16 times higher than for farmers. Those who had an average level of health knowledge had a higher probability of using annual physical examinations than those at the below-average level (odds ratio: 2.07).

Conclusion

The government and public health institutions should assist farmers to acquire the habit of having annual physical examinations. Traditional channels, such as bulletin boards, should be used to deliver health information. Village doctors should be supported in delivering health information to the elderly in rural areas.

Keywords:
Rural; Annual physical examination; Health services use; Elderly; Chinese