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Am J Public Health. 2012 Mar;102(3):496-502. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300500. Epub 2012 Jan 19.

Health-related quality of life among older adults with and without functional limitations.

Author information

  • 1Division of Adult and Community Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA 30341, USA.

Erratum in

  • Am J Public Health. 2013 Nov;103(11):e12.



We examined factors that influence health-related quality of life (HRQOL) among individuals aged 50 years and older with and without functional limitations.


We analyzed data from the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to assess associations among demographic characteristics, health care access and utilization indicators, modifiable health behaviors, and HRQOL characterized by recent physically and mentally unhealthy days in those with and those without functional limitations. We defined functional limitations as activity limitations owing to physical, mental, or emotional health or as the need for special equipment because of health.


Age, medical care costs, leisure-time physical activity, and smoking were strongly associated with both physically and mentally unhealthy days among those with functional limitations. Among those without functional limitations, the direction of the effects was similar, but the size of the effects was substantially smaller.


The availability of lower cost medical care, increasing leisure-time physical activity, and reducing rates of cigarette smoking will improve population HRQOL among older adults with and without functional limitations. These factors provide valuable information for determining future public health priorities.

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