Racial differences in activities of daily living limitation onset in older adults with arthritis: a national cohort study

Vivian C Shih, Jing Song, Rowland W Chang, Dorothy D Dunlop
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2005, 86 (8): 1521-6

OBJECTIVE: To investigate factors that predict the onset of limitations in activities of daily living (ADLs) in adults 65 years old or older who have arthritis, in order to develop public health programs for minorities (African and Hispanic Americans) and white Americans.

DESIGN: Longitudinal cohort study.

SETTING: National probability sample.

PARTICIPANTS: Older adults with arthritis (N=3541) who participated in the 1998 and 2000 Health and Retirement Study interviews and who had no baseline ADL limitations.

INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Onset of ADL limitations was identified from reports of 1 or more ADL task limitations at 2-year follow-up.

RESULTS: Onset is most frequent among African Americans (24.4%), followed by Hispanics (22.2%), and whites (16.9%). Race specific multivariate analysis showed that the strongest risk factor predicting onset of limitations across all racial and ethnic groups is physical limitations. Low household income was significant for older minorities but not for whites. Comorbid cardiovascular disease was a unique multivariate risk factor among African Americans.

CONCLUSIONS: Physical limitation is a strong risk factor for ADL limitation onset that is shared by all racial and ethnic groups. Early identification and treatment of physical limitations may prevent the onset of ADL limitations and thus improve quality of life. Race specific public health interventions should be considered to reduce the development of ADL limitations among older adults with arthritis.

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