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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2016 Mar;71 Suppl 1:S87-99. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glv099.

Correlates of Successful Aging in Racial and Ethnic Minority Women Age 80 Years and Older: Findings from the Women's Health Initiative.

Author information

  • 1UNC School of Medicine, Department of Medicine
  • 2Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC, Department of Health Policy and Management.
  • 3Wake Forest School of Medicine, Department of Biostatistics.
  • 4UC Davis School of Medicine, Department of Public Health Sciences.
  • 5Boston College William F. Connell School of Nursing.
  • 6University of Massachusetts Medical School, Department of Medicine.
  • 7Wake Forest School of Medicine, Department of Social Sciences & Health Policy.
  • 8UNC School of Medicine, Departments of Social Medicine and Medicine.
  • 9UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine, NC Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute.
  • 10University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine, Department of Geriatric Medicine.
  • 11University of Iowa, Departments of Epidemiology & Medicine.
  • 12Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
  • 13University of Washington School of Medicine.



Most research has focused on definitions and predictors of successful aging. However, racial/ethnic minorities are often under represented in this research. Given that the U.S. population is aging and becoming more racially diverse, we examined correlates of "successful aging," as defined by physical functioning and overall quality of life (QOL), among racial/ethnic minority women aged 80 years and older in the Women's Health Initiative.


Participants included 1,924 racial/ethnic minority women (African Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Hispanic/Latinos, and American Indian/Alaskan Natives) 80 years of age and older who are enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative and have physical functioning data after turning 80 years of age. Analysis of covariance was used to examine between and within group differences in physical functioning and selfrated overall QOL for African Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and Hispanic/Latinos.


We found no significant differences in physical functioning between racial/ethnic minority groups in adjusted analyses. However, overall QOL was significantly different between racial/ethnic minority groups. Age, recreational physical activity, and overall selfrated health were independent correlates of physical functioning across racial/ethnic minority groups, whereas overall selfrated health was the only consistent correlate of overall QOL across the minority groups for the within minority group comparisons.


Between racial/ethnic minority group differences in physical functioning are largely explained by demographic, psychosocial, behavioral, and health-related variables. We found statistically significant differences in selfrated overall QOL between racial/ethnic minority groups.


Minority aging; Physical function; Successful aging

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