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Patient Responsibility in Health Care: An AARP Bulletin Survey

With roughly three-quarters of respondents reporting that they “lead a healthy lifestyle,” it is not surprising that their reported behaviors generally support this assertion.  However, as with many health-related activities, respondents appear to be taking better care of themselves in certain respects while shortchanging others.

  • Nearly nine in ten respondents say that they have had a vision test within the past five years, more than eight in ten women say they’ve had a mammogram, and slightly more than two-thirds of men say they’ve had a prostate exam within the same time period.  
  • Only about half of the respondents report that they have had a colonoscopy in the past five years (even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that healthy adults begin having the exam at 50 years of age), only about half say that they have had their hearing test as an adult, and only about four in ten say they have compiled a family health history.


Respondents also appear to be coordinating with their health care professionals, with more than nine in ten reporting being either extremely or very honest with their doctor about their health history, a similar percentage saying they are extremely or very comfortable in asking their doctor questions about medications and treatment options, and more than three-quarter noting that they follow their doctor’s advice extremely or very closely.

AARP commissioned SSRS to perform a telephone survey of 1,014 adults aged 50 and older between March 30-April 10, 2011. For more information about this study, please contact Teresa A. Keenan, Ph.D., at 202-434-6274.

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