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Changes in self-rated health, disability and contact with services in a very elderly cohort

Age and Ageing

Author: Dening, T. R., Chi, L., Brayne, C., Huppert, F. A., Paykel, E. S., O'Connor, D. W.
Type: Journal Article
Year: 1998


OBJECTIVES: To study the relationships between global self-rated health, reported physical symptoms and depressive symptoms and the receipt of community services by very elderly people, and to examine changes in these variables over time. DESIGN: Three-wave study with follow-up at 2.4 and 6 years after first interview. Structured interview, incorporating cognitive examination (Mini-Mental State Examination) and enquiring specifically about overall self-rated health, physical symptoms and depressive symptoms. SETTING: Community setting in city of Cambridge, UK. PARTICIPANTS: 2609 were initially recruited: all patients aged 75 years and over from lists of six general practices (and one in three from a seventh practice). At 2.4 years, 1173 individuals re-examined and at 6 years 628 individuals. MEASUREMENTS: General health self-rated in comparison to others of similar age and individual physical and depressive symptoms self-rated as present or absent. Symptoms were added to produce physical health and depressive symptom scores. Data presented from cross-sectional analysis of 6-year sample; also examined longitudinal data from all three waves of study for ageing and cohort effects. Finally the effect of health variables on the receipt of services was examined. RESULTS: At 6 years, 70% rated their overall health as good or very good. Overall self-rated health showed both ageing and cohort effects, improving with increasing age and especially with more recent cohort. Reported physical symptoms increased with ageing. Depression scores also increased with ageing but the relationship between depressive symptoms and ageing was less clear-cut. Receipt of services was associated with poor self-rated health and reported physical symptoms as well as with ageing. Higher depression scores at 2.4 years were associated with increased service receipt at 6 years, indicating a lag between the symptoms and the service response. Individuals in the more recent cohort were less likely to receive services, but those who did so received more frequent contact. CONCLUSIONS: Although very elderly people have a high prevalence of reported physical symptoms, they often rate their overall health as good. There was a stronger relationship between ageing and physical symptoms than with depressive symptoms. Symptoms of both kinds influenced the likelihood of receiving services, although there was a lag between depressive symptoms and service response. Cohort effects on service receipt may reflect changes in public service policy.

Further Details

Full Title: Age and Ageing
Pages: 23-33
Volume: 27
Issue: 1
Accession Number: 1.4.03
Research Notes: Electronic copy added 22/08/2013
Keywords: United Kingdomolderhealth improvementemotional
Reads: 516