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Arch Hellen Med, 35(2), March-April 2018, 220-229


Economic crisis and health-related quality of life in the elderly

E.K. Karanikola,1 Ε.C. Dimopoulos,2 D.Α. Niakas,3 V.H. Aletras1,2
1School of Social Sciences, Hellenic Open University, Patra,
2Department of Business Administration, University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki,
3School of Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

OBJECTIVE To investigate the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in elderly people and its association with factors related to the economic crisis in Greece.

METHOD The study included 352 elderly people at the six Open Care Centers for the Elderly of the Municipality Pilea-Hortiatis in the northern Greek region of Macedonia. The Greek version of the generic tool SF-36 was used to investigate the HRQoL, along with a questionnaire specially developed for the collection of demographic, socioeconomic and health data, information about the degree of hardship due to the economic crisis and self-assessment of the current and future economic situation of the participants. Literature reReview and a pilot study were carried out to ensure content validity of the tool. Test-retest reliability was evaluated with Cohen's kappa coefficient. The relationship of the demographic and other characteristics of the elderly with the general scales of SF-36 was investigated using the Mann-Whitney U and Kruskal-Wallis tests and Spearman correlation coefficients.

RESULTS The average scores of the elderly people on the general scales of the SF-36 were low. Factors associated with the HRQoL scores included gender, age, and chronic health problems. The current economic crisis in Greece has reduced the income of elderly people which has affected their purchasing behavior and ability to pay bills. A moderate relationship was demonstrated between inability to pay bills and money shortages and poor mental health.

CONCLUSIONS The elderly population in this study was characterized by low levels of HRQoL as assessed by the SF-36. Factors including economic hardship, money shortages and expectations of worsening economic conditions appear to be related to a lowered HRQoL.

Key words: Economic crisis, Elderly, Health-related quality of life, SF-36.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine