Outpatient physical therapy population has been aging faster than the general population: a total population register-based study

Solveig A. Arnadottir*, Brynjólfur Gauti Jónsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The Icelandic population is aging like other populations in the world, the life expectancy is high, and the national focus is to help people to age in their own homes. The objectives of this research was to describe 17 years of demographic changes among outpatient physical therapy (OPT) clients and to determine if these changes reflect aging in the total population. Methods: Data was obtained from a national registry with information on all OPT clients reimbursed by Icelandic Health Insurance from 1999 to 2015, and general population data from the Statistics Iceland registry covering the same 17 years. Simple counts, proportions, Rate Ratios (RR) and 95 % Confidence Intervals (CI) were used to describe and compare the two time-points (1999 and 2015) in both populations, and regression analyses were used to estimate linear changes for each of these 17 years. Results: Comparing the endpoints of the 17-year period, the proportion of older adults within the total OPT clientele increased by 23 % (from 18.3 % to 1999 to 23.5 % in 2015; RR 1.23; 95 %CI 1.19–1.27).) while in the general Icelandic population, the proportion of older adults increased by 15 % (from 11.6 % to 1999 to 13.5 % in 2015; RR 1.15; 95 % CI 1.1–1.21). For each of these 17 years, there was an overall 5 % yearly increase in the rate of older adults from the general older Icelandic population who used an OPT (accounting for population aging), and an overall 3.5 % yearly increase in the proportional contribution of older adults to the total OPT clientele. Adjusting for sex and older age group revealed that this increase in rate and proportion was most pronounced among ≥ 85-year-old men. Conclusions: This case of Iceland is an example of how health-related and population-based registers may potentially be used to routinely inform and facilitate optimal planning of future health care services for older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number708
Pages (from-to)708
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) would like to acknowledge; the staff at?the Icelandic Health Insurance for their assistance in creating the research database, and the staff at the Statistical Consulting Center at the School of Health Sciences at the University of Iceland for methodological and statistical advice.

Funding Information:
The study was partially funded by the University of Iceland Research Fund. The funding source had no role in the design, conduct, or reporting of the study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Other keywords

  • Aging
  • Big data
  • Health services
  • Outpatients
  • Population Dynamics
  • Registries


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