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U. Stahl, B. Golebiowski, D. Pye, F. Stapleton; Eye Care Utilisation in the General Community in New South Wales, Australia. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(13):3243.
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To determine factors influencing utilisation of eye care services by the general community over 40 years of age in New South Wales (NSW), Australia.
A telephone questionnaire was designed to survey 1000 randomly selected NSW residents > 40 years of age. Data were collected on: utilisation of and beliefs towards eye care; most recent eye care experience, including monetary aspects; and socio-demographic factors. The questionnaire was validated prior to use on 2 representative groups, those who accessed eye care within 5 years ("accessors"), and more than 5 years ago ("non-accessors"). Analysis is presented for the first 100 participants.
96% of participants had visited an eye care provider within the last 5 years. The majority of participants had most recently visited an optometrist (72%). Ophthalmologists were visited by a greater number of participants located in urban areas (32%) than by those in regional ones (17%). Whilst 83% of those seen by an optometrist reported that their eye care visit was fully covered by the Australian Health Care System, only 32 of those seen by an ophthalmologist had no visit costs. However, 63% of participants, seen by an optometrist and only 32% of participants seen by an ophthalmologist had additional costs arising from their visit. 75% of non-accessors were located in regional areas, and the main reasons cited by non-accessors for not attending an eye care visit earlier were "lack of need" and "no vision problems". 84% of all participants cited "reminder or recommendation by eye care practitioner" as an important factor in encouraging them to attend eye care visits more frequently. However, only 50% of participants had been advised regarding a follow-up visit by their practitioner. "More serious eye problems" and "increased knowledge about eye diseases" were also cited as important factors to attend eye care visits more frequently (97%, 75% respectively).
Knowledge about eye disease, self-perceived eye health status and lack of need are important factors governing the access of eye care services in NSW. Even though a large proportion of the general community in NSW is regularly accessing eye care, improvements in patient education and follow-up advice are warranted.
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