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FRIDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Baby boomers' interest in health issues peaks at about age 50, wanes after that, and then peaks again near age 65, according to a new study.
The findings may help doctors and other health professionals target boomers with health messages when they're most receptive to hearing them, according to the Ohio State University researchers.
Their study, based on a survey of nearly 500 Americans aged 45 to 65, found that people in their late 40s had the lowest levels of interest in health issues. Interest rose rapidly after that and peaked in the early 50s, then dropped slightly and flattened out during the rest of the 50s and early 60s. Another peak was seen near age 65.
The study is the first to identify specific age points when people are most interested in health issues, said study lead author John Dimmick, an emeritus associate professor of communications at the university.
The peak interest in health issues when people are in their early 50s is likely due to what they hear from their doctors and the media.
"Fifty is the age Americans are told they need to undergo a variety of health screenings," Dimmick said in a university news release. "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 attention to their health when they are encouraged to get all of these various screening tests," he noted.
"The early 50s are clearly a key change point for the baby boomers we studied," co-author Katey Price, a doctoral candidate in communications, said in the news release. "This would be a great time to reach boomers with messages about how to improve and protect their health."
The study was scheduled for presentation Nov. 15 at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association in Orlando, Fla. Data and conclusions presented at meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
-- Robert Preidt
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