Typical models of the decision to seek care consider information as a single conceptual object. This paper presents an alternative that allows multiple objects. For older persons seeking care, results support this alternative. Older decision-makers that segregate information into multiple conceptual objects assessed separately are characterized by socio-demographic (younger age, racial category, non-Hispanic, higher education, higher income, and not married), health status (better general health for men and worse general health for women, fewer known illnesses), and neuropsychological (less memory loss for men, trouble concentrating and trouble making decisions for men) factors. Results of this study support the conclusion that older persons are more likely to integrate information, and individuals with identifiable characteristics are more likely to do so than others. The theory tested in this study implies a potential explanation for misutilization of care (either over or under-utilization).
aging research, help seeking, information processing, decision-making, medicare current beneficiary survey