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06-01-2020 | Uitgave 6/2020

Quality of Life Research 6/2020

Indicators of potential health-related social needs and the association with perceived health and well-being outcomes among community-dwelling medicare beneficiaries

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 6/2020
Jessa K. Engelberg Anderson, Purva Jain, Amy J. Wade, Andrea M. Morris, Jill C. Slaboda, Gregory J. Norman
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11136-019-02410-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Health-related social needs (HRSNs) can make older adults’ more vulnerable and impact their health, well-being, and ability to age-in-place. The current study assessed the prevalence of potential HRSNs (pHRSNs) across several domains (e.g., transportation, social isolation) and explored the associations with health and well-being outcomes in a sample of Medicare beneficiaries.


Cross-sectional analyses were conducted with a representative sample of community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries (N = 5758) from the 2012 National Health and Aging Trends Study. Binary indicators of pHRSNs were created for five domains: medical and utility financial needs (MUFN), housing, nutrition, social isolation, and transportation. Outcomes were depression/anxiety, self-rated health, meaning/satisfaction, perceived control/adaptability. Variables were weighted, and multivariate regression models assessed associations between pHRSN variables and outcomes, controlling for sociodemographics and health conditions.


Of the estimated 32 million community-dwelling beneficiaries, approximately 13.3 million were positive for ≥ 1 pHRSN and 11.4 million for ≥ 2 pHRSNs. The prevalence by domain was 7% for housing, 8% for transportation, 12% for UMFN and nutrition, and 33% for social isolation. Each domain, except for housing, was significantly (p < .05) associated with at least two of the four outcomes, where being positive for a pHRSN was associated with greater depression/anxiety and poorer self-rated general health.


Over 40% of Medicare beneficiaries had ≥ 1 pHRSN indicators, which means they are more vulnerable and that may limit their ability to age-in-place. Given the growing aging population, better measures and methods are needed to identify, monitor, and address HRSNs. For example, leveraging existing community-based services through coordinated care may be an effective strategy to address older adults’ HRSNs.

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