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BMC Geriatr. 2014 Apr 15;14:47. doi: 10.1186/1471-2318-14-47.

Factors associated with functional incapacity in elders living in long stay institutions in Brazil: a cross-sectional study.

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National School of Public Health/Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Rua Leopoldo Bulhões, 1480/817 - Manguinhos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.



The increase of the elderly population and the high prevalence of chronic diseases have contributed to the increasing importance of functional ability as a global public health problem. This study aimed to assess functional capacity in institutionalized elders, as well as undertake an exploratory analysis of its associated factors.


This is a cross-sectional study with institutionalized Brazilian elders. Functional capacity was assessed using the Katz Index for Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and the Lawton Scale for Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL). The characteristics of dependent individuals were described and logistic regression models were developed for both scales. Multiple models that included all selected variables were developed using a hierarchical approach. We considered the results from the Wald test (p <0.05) as a rule for progressing to the next level.


A population of 760 elders was considered. The prevalence of dependence was 50.3% for ADL and 81.2% for IADL. We observed associations between ADL dependence and the following factors: self-report of stroke, difficulty of walking 400 meters, lower total scores in questions related to the temporal orientation section of the cognition test, and self-reports of frequently feeling upset. IADL dependence was associated with educational level, self-report of cancer, difficulty of walking 400 meters, use of glasses, and self-reported memory problems.


Sociodemographic and health conditions were associated with functional incapacity in institutionalized elders. Based on these findings, we emphasize the importance of both prevention and treatment of chronic conditions as well as social support in the maintenance of individuals' autonomy.

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