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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2010 Nov;65(6):715-9. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbp115. Epub 2009 Dec 22.

Longitudinal association between self-rated health and timed gait among older persons.

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Center for State Health Policy, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.



We evaluated the longitudinal association between self-rated health (SRH) and timed gait, an indicator of lower extremity dysfunction, in a community-based sample of older persons.


Participants (N = 754) were evaluated at 18-month intervals for 72 months. SRH was categorized as Excellent/Very Good/Good and Fair/Poor. Participants were asked to walk a 10-foot course "as fast as it feels safe and comfortable," turn around, and walk back, with timed gait defined as normal (≤10 s) or slow (>10 s). Generalized multinomial logit models, adjusted for demographic features, biomedical and psychosocial factors, and activities of daily living, evaluated the association between SRH and the likelihood of 6 possible transitions (from normal or slow timed gait to normal timed gait, slow timed gait, or death) over time. We also ran a repeated measures linear mixed model with change in timed gait as the outcome.


Compared with participants reporting Excellent/Very Good/Good SRH, those reporting Fair/Poor SRH were more likely to transition from normal to slow timed gait or to death. SRH was not associated with transitions from slow timed gait to normal timed gait or to death. In addition, time to complete the gait task increased (i.e., slowed) over time among participants reporting Fair/Poor SRH compared with those reporting Excellent/Very Good/Good SRH.


Among older persons, SRH is associated with the development of lower extremity dysfunction but not with recovery from lower extremity dysfunction. This relationship may indicate an intermediate step in the pathway from SRH to mortality.

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