Objectives: Previous studies showed that older adults with fair or poor self-rated health (SRH) were more likely to experience delayed care during the COVID-19 pandemic. We aim to understand delayed care patterns by SRH during the COVID-19 pandemic among US older adults. Methods: Using a nationally representative sample of older adults (≥ 70 years old) from the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS), we assessed the patterns of delayed care by good, fair, or poor SRH. Results: Nearly one in five of the survey-weighted population of 9,465,117 older adults who experienced delayed care during the pandemic reported fair or poor SRH. The overall distributions of the numbers of types of delayed care (p = 0.16) and the numbers of reasons for delayed care (p = 0.12) did not differ significantly by SRH status. Older adults with good, fair, or poor SRH shared the four most common types of delayed care and three most common reasons for delayed care but differed in ranking. Older adults with poor SRH mostly delayed seeing a specialist (good vs. fair vs. poor SRH: 40.1%, 46.7%, 73%, p = 0.01). Conclusions: The results suggest that utilizing SRH as a simple indicator may help researchers and clinicians understand similarities and differences in care needs for older adults during the pandemic. Targeted interventions that address differences in healthcare needs among older adults by SRH during the evolving pandemic may mitigate the negative impacts of delayed care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107308
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Care disruptions
  • Delayed care
  • Older adults
  • Self-rated health


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