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Am J Public Health. 1994 March; 84(3): 351–358.
PMCID: PMC1614827

The effects of specific medical conditions on the functional limitations of elders in the Framingham Study.


OBJECTIVES. The purpose of this study was to identify associations between specific medical conditions in the elderly and limitations in functional tasks; to compare risks of disability across medical conditions, controlling for age, sex, and comorbidity; and to determine the proportion of disability attributable to each condition. METHODS. The subjects were 709 noninstitutionalized men and 1060 women of the Framingham Study cohort (mean age 73.7 +/- 6.3 years). Ten medical conditions were identified for study: knee osteoarthritis, hip fracture, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, intermittent claudication, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depressive symptomatology, and cognitive impairment. Adjusted odds ratios were calculated for dependence on human assistance in seven functional activities. RESULTS. Stroke was significantly associated with functional limitations in all seven tasks; depressive symptomatology and hip fracture were associated with limitations in five tasks; and knee osteoarthritis, heart disease, congestive heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, were associated with limitations in four tasks each. CONCLUSIONS. In general, stroke, depressive symptomatology, hip fracture, knee osteoarthritis, and heart disease account for more physical disability in noninstitutionalized elderly men and women than other diseases.

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