A promising approach in comparative research on care for the elderly
1 Department of International Health, Maastricht University, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands
2 NIVEL (Netherlands institute for Health Services Research), PO Box 1568, 3500 BN Utrecht, The Netherlands
BMC Medicine 2011, 9:124 doi:10.1186/1741-7015-9-124Published: 18 November 2011
Long-term care (LTC) in the form of care provided in nursing homes, homes for the aged and home care is considered an appropriate answer to the growing needs of the aging populations of the industrialized world. However, the provision of and expenditures on LTC vary considerably between these industrialized countries. Although one would expect LTC to be subject to many internationally comparative studies, including all European countries, this is not the case. A paper presented by Damiani et al. in BMC Health Services Research contains an internationally comparative model regarding the development of LTC in Europe (2003 to 2007). They achieve an intriguing compromise between depth and width in the sparsely populated domain of internationally comparative research on LTC by characterizing countries' LTC and interpreting the large north/south differences found. Their results also show that 'cash for care' schemes form a substantial alternative to traditional LTC provision. An additional time series analysis showed that many countries seem to be engaged in reorganizing the LTC sector. This study widens knowledge in a neglected area of health services research and should serve as a source of inspiration for further studies.