Disabled older people's use of health and social care services and their unmet care needs in six European countries

Barbara Bień, Kevin J. McKee, Hanneli Döhner, Judith Triantafillou, Giovanni Lamura, Halina Doroszkiewicz, Barbro Krevers, Christopher Kofahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The national health and social care systems in Europe remain poorly integrated with regard to the care needs of older persons. The present study examined the range of health and social care services used by older people and their unmet care needs, across six European countries. Methods: Family carers of older people were recruited in six countries via a standard protocol. Those providing care for disabled older people (n = 2629) provided data on the older person's service use over a 6-month period, and their current unmet care needs. An inventory of 21 services common to all six countries was developed. Analyses considered the relationship between older people's service use and unmet care needs across countries. Results: Older people in Greece, Italy and Poland used mostly health-oriented services, used fewer services overall and also demonstrated a higher level of unmet care needs when compared with the other countries. Older people in the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden used a more balanced profile of socio-medical services. A negative relationship was found between the number of different services used and the number of different areas of unmet care needs across countries. Conclusions: Unmet care needs in older people are particularly high in European countries where social service use is low, and where there is a lack of balance in the use of health and social care services. An expansion of social care services in these countries might be the most effective strategy for reducing unmet needs in disabled older people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1032-1038
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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