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Recession brought downward trend in doctor visits

Mortensen study examines recession effects on health delivery

Reuters Health picked up on an article co-authored by Faculty Associate Karoline Mortensen in JAMA Internal Medicine. Her study showed that Americans made fewer trips to their doctor's offices during 2008-09. "These are not dramatic drops, but in our healthcare system we're used to our numbers going up. . . so just seeing a reverse in the trend is interesting," she told reporter Andrew M. Seaman.

He gave a resume of some points in Dr. Mortensen's article :

  • Using a national database of medical expenses from about 54,000 people between the ages of 18 and 64 years old, Mortensen and her colleague compared how many times people of different races used health services during two-year periods before the recession (2005 and 2006) and during it (2008 and 2009).
  • On average, white patients went to the doctor's office 7.3 times in the two-year span before the recession, compared to 7 times each during the economic downturn.
  • Black patients went to the doctor about 5.8 times each before the recession, and 5.3 times during it. Hispanic patients made about 4.5 visits each to the doctors before the recession and 4.1 during it.

See the complete Reuters article