Age Bias in Physicians’ Recommendations for Physical Activity: A Behavioral Model of Healthcare Utilization for Adults With Arthritis

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Objective:

To examine whether age bias exists in physicians’ recommendations for physical activity among individuals with arthritis.

Methods:

A cross-sectional sample with 33,071 U.S. adults, 45 years or older with physician-diagnosed arthritis was obtained from 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey. We used logistic regression to examine physicians’ recommendations for physical activity as a function of age controlling for gender, race, education, marital status, employment, income, health insurance, personal physician, emotional support, body mass index, activity limitations, health status, and comorbidities.

Results:

Majority of individuals were females (65%), White (85%), had annual household income < $50,000 (67%), and with comorbidities (86%). Respondents were approximately equal across age groups: middle-aged group (53%) and older group (47%). About 36% were obese and 44% had activity limitations, and 44% did not receive any physicians’ recommendations for physical activity. Results from logistic regression indicated older adults (≥ 65 years old) were less likely (OR = 0.87; 95% CI, 0.82−0.92) to receive physicians’ recommendations for physical activity compared with the middle-aged group (45−64 years old).

Conclusions:

This study indicates that although the benefits associated with the physical activity is well recognized, there is age bias in physicians’ recommendations for physical activity.

Austin is with the Dept of Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA. Qu and Shewchuk are with the Dept of Health Services Administration, University of Alabama at Birmingham.