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Impact of the Economy on Health Behaviors

About one in five midlife and older adults have had their health negatively affected by the current economic downturn, and about one in six are not confident about being able to afford medical care next year, according to this October 2008 survey of adults age 45 and older.

When asked about 10 things they may have done because of the current economic situation, about half (51%) of respondents said they have taken a generic or over-the-counter medication instead of a prescription drug. About one-fifth said they have delayed seeing a doctor or other medical professional (22%), cut back on other expenses to be able to afford medical care (21%), or sought assistance in getting prescription drugs at lower cost (21%).

One-fifth (20%) of respondents said financial stress had caused them health problems, while slightly fewer (17%) said that cutting back on medical care has had a negative effect on their health.

This telephone survey of 820 adults ages 45 and older was conducted for AARP by ICR Inc. of Media, PA, from October 23 to October 29, 2008. For more information about this research, please contact Teresa A. Keenan, Ph.D., at 202-434-6274. (15 pages)

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