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Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2014 Mar-Apr;58(2):205-13. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2013.11.001. Epub 2013 Nov 18.

The heterogeneous health latent classes of elderly people and their socio-demographic characteristics in Taiwan.

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Institute of Gerontology, College of Medicine, The National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan. Electronic address:
Department of Economics, College of Social Sciences, The National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan.
Institute of Gerontology, College of Medicine, The National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan.


The health care needs of elderly people were influenced by their heterogeneity. This study aimed to identify the health latent classes of elderly people by using latent class analysis to deal with heterogeneity and examine their socio-demographic characteristics. Data came from the 2005 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) in Taiwan. In total, 2449 elderly individuals with available health indicators were examined in latent class analysis (LCA), and 2217 elderly community-dwellings with complete socio-demographic data were analyzed by multinomial logistic regression. Four health latent classes were identified which included 1066 (43.5%) people in the High Comorbidity (HC), 152 (6.2%) in the Functional Impairment (FI), 252 (10.3%) in the Frail (FR), and 979 (40.0%) in the Relatively Healthy (RH) group. Multinomial logistic regressions revealed socio-demographic characteristics among health classes. The variables associated with an increased likelihood of being in the FR group were age, female, and living with families. They were also correlated to ethnicity and educations. Apart from age and gender, the Functional Impairment group was less likely to be ethnicity of Hakka, more likely to live with others than were the RH group. The HC group tended to be younger, with higher educations, and more likely to live in urban area than the Functional Impairment group. The correlations between health classes and socio-demographic factors were discussed. The health status of elderly people includes a variety of health indicators. A person-centered approach is critical to identify the health heterogeneity of elderly people and manage their care needs by targeting differential aging.


Elderly; Health care; Heterogeneity; Latent class analysis; Social-demographic characteristics; Taiwan

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