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Ageing, the Urban-Rural Gap and Disability Trends: 19 Years of Experience in China - 1987 to 2006

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      BackgroundAs the age of a population increases, so too does the rate of disability. In addition, disability is likely to be more common in rural compared with urban areas. The present study aimed to examine the influence of rapid population changes in terms of age and rural/urban residence on the prevalence of disability.MethodsData from the 1987 and 2006 China Sampling Surveys on Disability were used to estimate the impacts of rapid ageing and the widening urban-rural gap on the prevalence of disability. Stratum specific rates of disability were estimated by 5-year age-group and type of residence. The decomposition of rates method was used to calculate the rate difference for each stratum between the two surveys.ResultsThe crude disability rate increased from 4.89% in 1987 to 6.39% in 2006, a 1.5% increase over the 19 year period. However, after the compositional effects from the overall rates of changing age-structure in 1987 and 2006 were eliminated by standardization, the disability rate in 1987 was 6.13%, which is higher than that in 2006 (5.91%). While in 1987 the excess due to rural residence compared with urban was <1.0%, this difference increased to >1.5% by 2006, suggesting a widening disparity by type of residence. When rates were decomposed, the bulk of the disability could be attributed to ageing, and very little to rural residence. However, a wider gap in prevalence between rural and urban areas could be observed in some age groups by 2006.ConclusionThe increasing number of elderly disabled persons in China and the widening discrepancy of disability prevalence between urban and rural areas may indicate that the most important priorities for disability prevention in China are to reinforce health promotion in older adults and improve health services in rural communities.

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      Most cited references 8

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      Ageing in China: health and social consequences and responses.

       H Yuan,  Davis Kwok,  J Woo (2002)
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        The impact of socio-economic factors on functional status decline among community-dwelling older adults in China.

        The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of baseline socio-economic factors on functional status decline over a period of 3 years among a sample of Chinese older men and women, using the China Health and Nutrition Surveys of 1997 and 2000. In addition, the study tries to determine whether risk differentials by these socio-economic factors can be explained by other demographic, health-related and nutritional risk factors. The eligible study population was defined as women and men aged 55 years and over who at baseline were free from any form of disablement in activities of daily living (ADLs) or instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) tasks. Among subjects with complete data at followed-up (N = 976), the overall incidence proportions of any functional status decline, IADL only and ADL declines were 25.8%, 18.9% and 6.9%, respectively. Our study found that education is strongly and inversely associated with incidence of combined functional status decline and IADL only but not with the onset of ADL disability. Similarly, household income per capita was inversely associated with functional status decline and IADL disability incidence, with a clear dose-response relationship, even after adjustment for age and gender. However, multivariate analysis demonstrated that the latter association was highly confounded by other demographic factors, especially urban-rural area of residence. Using a combined measure of socio-economic status that includes years of education and household income per capita, the age and gender-adjusted odds ratio for functional status decline and belonging to lower SES class as compared to middle, upper middle and upper classes was 3.82 (95% CI: 2.15, 6.77) and 2.77 (95% CI: 1.52, 5.03) after further adjustment for urban-rural area of residence and living arrangements. Hence, there are wide socio-economic disparities in the functional health of older adults in China, although such disparities are more seen for IADL decline and are almost exclusively attributed to differentials in educational attainment. Finally, nutritional and health-related risk factors do not seem to act as intermediate factors in this association and hence further research should try to uncover other mechanisms by which SES affects changes in functional health among older adults in China.
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          Healthy ageing is associated with reduced and delayed disability.

          to identify subgroups within the population with reduced or delayed disability during healthy ageing. a longitudinal, community-based study. Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia. 2805 men and women 60 years and older, first examined in 1988-89. activities of daily living assessed serially every 2 years over 8 years (scored in the range 0-6, least to most impaired); scores related to subsequent hospital admissions and to demographic, clinical and psychosocial characteristics at baseline. 1973 men and women provided complete follow-up data. Mean disability score at entry was low at 0.18 and increased to 0.69 by the final survey. Those having three or more hospital admissions (40% of the sample) had minimum disability (disability score approximately 0.3) around 5 years earlier than those with fewer admissions. Those with dementia or other mental illness had the most severe disability (mean disability scores of 3.15 and 2.13 respectively), but their numbers were very small. Those with a stroke or respiratory illness were more numerous and they had major physical disability (mean disability scores of 1.44 and 1.32 respectively). In a regression model, the statistically significant baseline predictors of disability at the final survey were age, body mass index, use of anti-hypertensive medication, history of stroke, depression score, peak expiratory flow and physical disability. the findings confirm reduced or delayed disability in older citizens requiring little or no hospitalization. Age, impaired peak expiratory flow and physical disability at study entry were most strongly predictive of disability, while stroke and respiratory illness were relatively common causes of severe disability.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China
            [2 ]Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, China
            [3 ]School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia
            [4 ]Graduate School, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
            Yale University School of Medicine, United States of America
            Author notes

            Conceived and designed the experiments: XP S. Song WW. Analyzed the data: XP. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: S. Song. Wrote the paper: XP. Participated in the preparation and revision of the manuscript: S. Sullivan WW. Contributed to administrative and technical support: JQ. Responsible for planning, acquisition of data, and obtaining funding for this study: WW.

            Role: Editor
            PLoS One
            PLoS ONE
            Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
            13 August 2010
            : 5
            : 8
            Peng et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
            Pages: 6
            Research Article
            Public Health and Epidemiology/Epidemiology
            Public Health and Epidemiology/Health Policy
            Public Health and Epidemiology/Social and Behavioral Determinants of Health



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