Psychological Distress and Access to Care Among Midlife Women

Pamela Jo Johnson, Judy Jou, Dawn M. Upchurch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of this study is to examine unmet health care needs among midlife women (ages 50-64 years) in the United States by level of psychological distress. Method: Using data for a nationally representative sample of midlife women (N = 8,838) from the 2015-2016 National Health Interview Survey, we estimated odds ratios of reasons for delayed care and types of care foregone by level of psychological distress—none, moderate (moderate psychological distress [MPD], and severe (severe psychological distress [SPD]). Findings: More than one in five midlife women had MPD (15.3%) or SPD (5.2%). Women with MPD or SPD had 2 to 5 times higher odds of delayed and 2 to 20 times higher odds of foregone care. Conclusions: Midlife women with psychological distress have poorer health than those with no distress, yet they are less likely to get needed health care. There is a missed window of opportunity to address mental health needs and manage comorbid chronic conditions to facilitate healthy aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-327
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Jan 8 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota (P2C HD041023), funded through a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • access to care
  • mental health
  • midlife

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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