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Geographical variations in self-rated health and functional limitations among older Chinese in eight WHO-SAGE provinces

By Vasoontara Yiengprugsawan, Catherine D’Este, Julie Byles and Hal Kendig


Abstract Background The proportion of population ageing in China will grow significantly in the next few decades but the pace of population ageing and social change vary considerably across regions. Notably, Eastern coastal areas are economically more advanced compared to the Western region. These economic disparities could result in differing adverse health outcomes. Methods We investigate geographical variations in self-rated overall health and functional limitations in a national representative sample of Chinese aged 50 years and older (n = 13,175) using the WHO Study on global AGEing and adult health (WHO SAGE). We used multivariable logistic regression to investigate urban-rural inequalities across regions, adjusting for sociodemographic and health covariates. Two main outcomes were self-rated overall health and functional limitations based on the WHO Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0 for a range of daily activities. Results The largest urban-rural differences in adverse health outcomes were in Shandong (AORs for urban versus rural of 6.32 [95% Confidence Interval 4.53–8.82] for poor or very poor self-rated overall health and 5.14 [CI 3.55–7.44] for functional limitations), followed by Jilin (AORs 2.71 [CI 2.04–3.61] and 4.72 [CI 3.43–6.49]), and Hubei (AORs 2.36 [CI 1.82–3.07] and 4.11 [CI 2.80–6.04]), respectively. Covariates significantly associated with both adverse health outcomes were older age, poor income, no health insurance, and increasing number of chronic diseases. Conclusion Our study reveals substantial disparities between urban and rural areas observed in both the well-developed areas (eg Shandong) and also the lower end of the economic spectrum (eg Hubei and Jilin). Targeted economic development policy and systematic health prevention and healthcare policies could be beneficial in improving health in later life whilst minimising geographical inequalities

Topics: Ageing population, China, Functional limitations, Health disparities, Self-rated health, Urban-rural inequalities, Geriatrics, RC952-954.6
Publisher: BMC
Year: 2019
DOI identifier: 10.1186/s12877-018-1005-y
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