According to research released online in JAMA, higher levels of social, cultural, and community engagement (SCCE) are linked to higher rates of dental and outpatient care utilization and lower rates of inpatient care in older adults.
Researchers led by Dr. Qian Gao of University College London looked at the correlation between SCCE and health care utilization in the US Health and Retirement Study. The sample size was over 12,000.
Short-term, two-year follow-up showed that more SCCE was associated with shorter hospital stays, greater odds of outpatient surgery and dental care, and lower odds of home health care and nursing home stays once confounders were taken into account.
Consistent SCCE was associated with lower levels of subsequent outpatient physician care and dental care utilization over a six-year follow-up period, while reduced SCCE or consistent nonparticipation in SCCE was associated with higher levels of subsequent inpatient care utilization.
“These findings suggest that more SCCE was associated with more dental and outpatient care utilization and reduced inpatient and community health care utilization,” the authors of the study determined.
“SCCE might be associated with shaping beneficial early and preventive health-seeking behaviors, facilitating health care decentralization and alleviating financial burden by optimizing health care utilization.”