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Cross-national disparities in sex differences in life expectancy with and without frailty

Lookup NU author(s): Tony Fouweather, Emerita Professor Carol Jagger


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Background: with continued ageing, levels of frailty are an increasing concern. Women live longer than men, but how life expectancies (LE) with frailty differ between men and women and whether sex differences are the same for all European countries is unknown. Objective: to compare sex differences in LE in phenotypic frailty categories and disability at age >= 50 between European countries. Design: the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). Subjects: a total of 50,351 people aged >= 50 from SHARE wave 4 (included countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden). Methods: the SHARE Frailty Instrument for Primary Care and the Global Activity Limitation Indicator were combined to define four phenotypic frailty and disability categories: robust, pre frail, frail and severely limited. LEs with each state by sex and country were calculated using Sullivan's method. Results: at age 70, the LE robust ranged from 4.1 to 10.4 years (men) and 3.0 to 8.9 years (women), LE pre frail from 0.8-3.1 years (men) and 2.2-5.5 years (women), LE frail from 0.1-1.8 years (men) and 0.4-5.5 years (women) and LE with severe activity limitation from 1.9 to 4.4 years (men) and 2.9 to 7.5 years (women). At all ages and both sexes the fewest years were spent frail. Conclusions: this study is the first to compare differences in LE in frailty categories across European countries. In most European countries, years spent robust (free of frailty or limitation) are significantly less for women than men, perhaps due to socio-economic as well as biological factors.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Romero-Ortuno R, Fouweather T, Jagger C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Age and Ageing

Year: 2014

Volume: 43

Issue: 2

Pages: 222-228

Print publication date: 04/08/2013

ISSN (print): 0002-0729

ISSN (electronic): 1468-2834

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/ageing/aft115


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Funder referenceFunder name
211909European Commission
227822European Commission
CIT4-CT-2006-028812European Commission
CIT5-CT-2005-028857European Commission
OGHA 04-064U.S. NIH
P01 AG005842,U.S. NIH
P01 AG08291U.S. NIH
QLK6-CT-2001-00360European Commission
P30 AG12815U.S. NIH
RII-CT- 2006-062193European Commission
SHARE-I3European Commission
R21 AG025169U.S. NIH
U01 AG09740-13S2U.S. NIH
Y1-AG-4553-01U.S. NIH