This study analyzes the relationship between depressive symptoms and the utilization of medical services for elderly people in Taiwan.
Because depressive symptoms and physical health may have a reciprocal relationship, a simultaneous equations model was used by performing a 3-stage least squares (3SLS) regression. The data in this study were obtained from the 2003 Survey of Health and Living Status of the Elderly in Taiwan (SHLSE).
The findings show that depressive symptoms have a significantly negative effect on the utilization of outpatient, inpatient, and emergency services. Furthermore, the magnitude of the 3SLS estimates of physical health status in relation to health service utilization is substantially greater than that in the OLS estimates. The results may reveal that people with depressive symptoms may seek healthcare services because of physical discomfort.
Those with depressive symptoms may not seek specialty mental treatments, suggesting that policy interventions to monitor the need to care for elderly people with depressive symptoms through primary care services are important in screening and maintaining the mental health of elderly people.