COLUMBUS, Ohio -- For baby boomers, the peak interest in health issues comes at about age 51, with a second peak coming near age 65, according to a new study.
The results may help doctors and other professionals target this generation with health messages at a time when they are most receptive to hearing them, the researchers said.
The study, based on a survey of Americans age 45 to 65, showed that people in their late 40s had the lowest levels of interest in health issues. Interest rose quickly, however, and peaked in the early 50s, then dropped slightly and plateaued during the rest of the 50s and early 60s. Another rise in interest occurred near age 65.
This is the first study to find health-related "change points" during the lifespan when people perceive health needs to be more important than at other times, said John Dimmick, lead author of the study and emeritus associate professor of communication at Ohio State University.
Dimmick conducted the study with Katey Price, a doctoral candidate in communication at Ohio State, and Melanie Sarge, a former Ohio State doctoral student who is now an assistant professor at Texas Tech University.
"The early 50s are clearly a key change point for the baby boomers we studied," Price said.
"This would be a great time to reach boomers with messages about how to improve and protect their health."
Price presented their results Nov. 15 in Orlando at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association.
The researchers suspect interest in health peaks in the early 50s because of what doctors and the media tell people reaching that age.
"Fifty is the age Americans are told they need to undergo a variety of health screenings," Dimmick said. For example, people are often told that they should get a colonoscopy, mammogram and -- until recently -- a PSA test for prostate cancer when they turn 50.
"People start really paying atte
|Contact: Jeff Grabmeier|
Ohio State University