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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2007 Jan;62(1):S11-21.

Feeling better? Trends in general health status.

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1
Institute of Medicine, 500 Fifth Street NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA. lmartin@nas.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

We addressed three questions: Have recent improvements in old-age disability been mirrored in changes in self-reported general health status? Are general health status trends similar for younger and older Americans? Have changes in general health status been uniform across demographic and socioeconomic groups?

METHODS:

Using logistic regression, we analyzed data from the 1982-2003 National Health Interview Surveys (n = 1,445,872 aged 18-69; n = 178,384 aged 70 and older).

RESULTS:

The proportion of people aged 70 and older reporting disability declined at 1.38% per year and the proportion 70 and older reporting poor/fair health declined at 1.85% per year. There was less of a decline in reports of poor/fair health at younger ages. Trends for the 18-69 population showed widening health disparities by income but narrowing of the race/ethnicity and education gaps. In the older population, there was no change for those aged 80-84 and 85 and older, the race/ethnicity gap persisted, and both education and income differentials widened over time.

DISCUSSION:

Declines in proportions reporting poor/fair health among the older population in recent decades mirror declines in disability. Although the younger population has not experienced such progress, its prevalence of poor/fair health is low throughout the 21-year analysis period. Of concern are the growing socioeconomic disparities in health for both younger and older populations.

PMID:
17284560
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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