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The Patterns of Health Care Utilization by Elderly Europeans: Frailty and Its Implications for Health Systems

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Keywords: Frailty; health care utilization; aging; Europe; prevention

Objective: To examine the patterns of health care utilization by the elderly and test the influence of functional decline.

Data Source and Study Design: We used the three regular waves of the SHARE survey to estimate the influence of frailty on health care utilization in 10 European countries. We controlled for the main correlates of frailty and unobserved individual effects.

Results: The frail elderly increase their primary and hospital care utilization before the onset of disability. Multimorbidity moderates the effect of frailty on care utilization.

Conclusions: The prevalence of frailty is high in most countries and is expected to increase. This renders frailty prevention and remediation efforts imperative for two complementary reasons: to promote healthier aging and to reduce the burden on health systems.

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