Patients cutting back on doctor visits by one-third

Patient cutbacks on physician visits are a problem that only seems to be getting worse as high jobless rates and recessionary pressures squeeze consumers. A new study concludes, in fact, that a full 36 percent of Americans have reduced the number of times they visit doctors, researchers say.

A survey by the American Optometric Association found that 63 percent of the adults responding saw dentists less often, 59 percent said they'd cut back on primary-care visits, and 52 percent had reduced the number of times they saw eye doctors. All told, only 8 percent of respondents said they were sticking to their normal schedule, researchers concluded.

As is often the case, this trend has had a different impact on varied ethnic groups. For example, 49 percent of Hispanic respondents had cut back, compared with 36 percent of blacks and 33 percent of whites. Gender differences also seemed to be a factor in how often patients saw their caregivers, with, for example, 38 percent of women limiting their doctor visits, as compared with 32 percent of men.

One particularly striking stat that emerged was that two-thirds of respondents in rural areas were reducing eye doctor visits, compared with half of urban and suburban residents.

To learn more about this topic:
- read this HealthDay News piece
- read this American Optometric Association press release

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