Cognitive impairment negatively impacts allied health service uptake: Investigating the association between health and service use



MacLeod CA, Bu F, Rutherford AC, Phillips J & Woods R (2021) Cognitive impairment negatively impacts allied health service uptake: Investigating the association between health and service use. SSM - Population Health, 13, Art. No.: 100720.

There is widespread concern about the potential impact on health and social care services of the ageing population and long-term health conditions, such as dementia. To effectively plan services it is important to understand current need and use and identify gaps in provision. Using data from the Cognitive Function and Ageing Study Wales (CFAS Wales), we used logistic regression to model the relationship between health (self-rated health, cognitive impairment, and activities of daily living), and the use of health and care services. CFAS Wales is a longitudinal cohort study of people aged 65 years and over, in two areas in Wales, UK, over-sampling those aged 75 years and over. Participants (n = 3593) answered a wide range of health and lifestyle questions and completed a variety of cognitive and physical health assessments. Data from 3153 people from wave 1 and 1968 people from wave 2 were analysed. As anticipated we found poorer health, on some indicators, predicted greater service use, including social care, hospital, general practitioner, and nursing services. However, cognitive impairment did not predict greater service use, except for social care. Controlling for age, sex, socio-economic status, social connection indices and area environment, conversely we found lower reported uptake of allied health services by people with cognitive impairment. Further analysis showed that people with a cognitive impairment were less likely to report having a sight-check or seeing a dentist in the previous year, a finding replicated in wave 2. These differences were not explained by transportation issues. In contrast, we did not find a significant difference in reported uptake of hearing checks or physiotherapist use, with mixed evidence of differences in chiropodist visits. Not accessing these preventative services may not only exacerbate existing conditions but have further downstream negative consequences for health and well-being in people who are cognitively impaired.

Health service use; Social care; Allied health; Older adults; Dementia; Cognitive impairment

Article written in collaboration with the CFAS WALES research team.

SSM - Population Health: Volume 13

FundersWelsh Government and Economic and Social Research Council
Publication date31/03/2021
Publication date online13/12/2020
Date accepted by journal09/12/2020

People (2)


Professor Alasdair Rutherford

Professor Alasdair Rutherford

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology