Mobility and Gender Aspects of Hospital Trips of the Urban Elderly in Ilesa, Nigeria

By Olawole, Moses O. | Ife Psychologia, March 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Mobility and Gender Aspects of Hospital Trips of the Urban Elderly in Ilesa, Nigeria


Olawole, Moses O., Ife Psychologia


Access to health care facilities is an important aspect of the wellbeing of the elderly. This is especially true in Nigeria where the proportion of the elderly in the nation's population is on the increase (UN, 2007, Ajomale, 2007). Currently, the country has the highest population of the elderly in Africa and it has been estimated that by the year 2025 the population of Nigerians aged 60 and above would constitute 6 percent of the entire population (NPC 2003; Okoye, 2013). This trend is expected to have varieties of implications on the nation's transport planning, travel demand and health care delivery system.

Mobility issues of the elderly to health facilities such as hospitals will become paramount in the country's development initiatives in the nearest future for several reasons. One, the generally acclaimed traditional functions rendered by family system to the elderly like care and social support have gradually decreased in the recent past due to financial problems, migration and other issues, living the elderly to fend for themselves (Asagba, 2005; Okoye, 2013; Togonu-Bickersteth and Akanni, 2014). Two, it has been noted that hospitals in the country are inadequate in meeting medical needs of the population (Aloba, 1986, Oyekale and Eluwa, 2009, Okafor, 1990). Access to hospitals, by the elderly will become issues of concern because elderly women more than men are more vulnerable to physical and financial constraints that are likely to impede timely utilization of the healthcare services (Mobley, Root, Anselin, Lozano-Gracia, and Koschinsky, 2006)).

In addition, transport services provision in the country is beleaguered by problems such inadequate and poorly maintained infrastructural facilities, accidents; traffic congestions, long waiting time, high transport cost, the preponderance of the use of motorcycles as a mode of urban passenger transport and poor quality of transport services (Fagbemi, 1989; Ogunjumo and Fagbemi, 1991, Filani 1994; 2002; Ikporukpo 1994; Ogunsanya, 1997, Okanlawon, 2007 and Mobereola, 2009). These problems consequently undermine access to and utilization of hospitals and other types of health facilities by older people. The problems become compounded when a growing proportion of the population are old adults who need access to hospital services but may have limited transportation options. Studies in the country has shown that, lack of personal means of transports, poor transport services and increase distance between residents and health care providers decreases utilisation of health care services (Okafor,1989, 1990, Oyekale and Eluwa, 2009 ; Adetunji and Aloba, 2010).

Studies on travel behaviour to health facilities and especially to hospitals in Nigeria are abound, but none examined mobility and gender differences of the elderly travel behaviour to hospitals. This gap is compounded by the holistic approaches adopted by the available studies on the mobility and travel characteristics of the elderly in Nigeria (Olawole and Aloba 2014; Ipingbemi, 2010). Therefore, to deal adequately with mobility issues of the elderly as it relates to hospital trips and also for informed and evidencebased policies and programs formulation in the health and transport sector of the economy, it is critical to have reliable data on and comprehensive knowledge of older people hospital travel behaviour in the country.

Given the above reasons, this research focuses on hospital trips of the elderly in a medium sized Nigerian urban centre. The objectives of the research are to examine mobility characteristics and gender differences in hospital trips of the elderly. The paper is divided into five sections. Section one is the introductory phase. Section two reviews literature on accessibility to health care facilities and mobility of elderly. Section three presents the methodology of the study. Section four examines mobility and hospital trip characteristics of the elderly with a view of understanding their travel needs and lastly, the implication of findings

Literature review

Travel behaviour, mode choice and the implications of the travel patterns of older people have being the subject of extensive research and discussion in developed and developing countries (Zhang, Mao, Liu, Chen, and Guo, 2007; Hjorthol, Levin, and Sirén, 2010; Ipingbemi, 2010; Ward, Somerville, and Bosworth, 2013; Porter et al, 2013; Hu, Wang, and Wang, 2013). …

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