Background: Unmet health needs should be, in theory, a minor issue in Italy where a publicly funded and universally accessible health system exists. This, however, does not seem to be the case. Moreover, in the last two decades responsibilities for health care have been progressively decentralized to regional governments, which have differently organized health service delivery within their territories. Regional decision-making has affected the use of health care services, further increasing the existing geographical disparities in the access to care across the country. This study aims at comparing self-perceived unmet needs across Italian regions and assessing how the reported reasons - grouped into the categories of availability, accessibility and acceptability – vary geographically. Methods: Data from the 2006 Italian component of the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions are employed to explore reasons and predictors of self-reported unmet medical needs among 45,175 Italian respondents aged 18 and over. Multivariate logistic regression models are used to determine adjusted rates for overall unmet medical needs and for each of the three categories of reasons. Results: Results show that, overall, 6.9% of the Italian population stated having experienced at least one unmet medical need during the last 12 months. The unadjusted rates vary markedly across regions, thus resulting in a clear-cut north–south divide (4.6% in the North-East vs. 10.6% in the South). Among those reporting unmet medical needs, the leading reason was problems of accessibility related to cost or transportation (45.5%), followed by acceptability (26.4%) and availability due to the presence of too long waiting lists (21.4%). In the South, more than one out of two individuals with an unmet need refrained from seeing a physician due to economic reasons. In the northern regions, working and family responsibilities contribute relatively more to the underutilization of medical services. Logistic regression results suggest that some population groups are more vulnerable than others to experiencing unmet health needs and to reporting some categories of reasons. Adjusting for the predictors resulted in very few changes in the rank order of macro-area rates. Conclusions: Policies to address unmet health care needs should adopt a multidimensional approach and be tailored so as to consider such geographical heterogeneities.
|Titolo:||Geographical variation of unmet medical needs in Italy: a multivariate logistic regression analysis|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2013|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|