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MEASUREMENT AND DISTRIBUTION OF PHYSICAL FUNCTIONAL STATUS IN OLDER ADULTS USING OBJECTIVE AND SUBJECTIVE TESTS: DIFFERENCES BY SEX

M. Sánchez-Martínez, M.V. Castell, M.T. Sánchez-Santos, M.V. Zunzunegui, A. Otero, M.C. de Hoyos

J Aging Res Clin Practice 2012;1(1):93-97

Background: Knowledge of physical status in older adults makes it possible to plan actions that promote healthy ageing. This study aimed to use a hierarchical classification of the physical status and to assess sex differences of physical function using objective and subjective measures. Methods: Data come from a representative random sample of 814 persons age 65 and over living in a neighbourhood of Madrid and were collected between June 2007 and June 2008. The dependent variable was physical function classified into four levels: good, limited, mobility disability, and disability in the activities of daily living (ADL) and was measured by self-reported questionnaire. Physical performance was assessed by the SPPB (Short Physical Performance Battery). The independent variables were age and sex. Results: The prevalence of good physical function in the study population based on self-reports was almost three times higher in men than in women (40.2% versus 15.2%). A larger proportion of women were dependent in mobility (44.1% versus 25.5%) and in ADL (14.1 versus 6.9%). This association persisted after adjustment for age. Using as dependent variable the objective performance score (SPPB), sex differences remained after adjusting for age (regression coefficient: 1.22 IC95% 0.87-1.58). The four groups are classified hierarchically. A staged reduction in total SPPB and each of its components found with decreasing level of self-reported physical function. Conclusion: The physical function classification presented is hierarchical, suggesting that before becoming disabled, one first has physical limitations and mobility disability. Women showed worse physical function in self reported disability and objective measures of physical performance.

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