Household and neighborhood conditions partially account for associations between education and physical capacity in the National Health and Aging Trends Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Socioeconomic resources, such as education, prevent disability but are not readily modifiable. We tested the hypothesis that household and neighborhood conditions, which may be modifiable, partially account for associations between education and physical capacity in a population-based sample of older adults.The National Health and Aging Trends Study measured education (<high school, high school, some college, and ≥Bachelor's), household and neighborhood conditions, using a 16-item environmental checklist and a 3-item social cohesion scale, and physical capacity with the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), grip strength and peak expiratory flow. Structural equation models were used to decompose total educational effects into direct effects and indirect effects via household and neighborhood conditions, using sample weights and adjusting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, marital status, household size, BMI, self-reported health, and number of medical conditions in 6874 community-dwelling participants.Education was directly associated with SPPB scores (β=0.055, p<0.05) and peak flow (β=0.095, p<0.05), but not grip strength. Also, indirect effects were found for household disorder with SPPB scores (β=0.013, p<0.05), grip strength (β=0.007, p<0.05), and peak flow (β=0.010, p<0.05). Indirect effects were also found for street disorder with SPPB scores (β=0.012, p<0.05). Indirect effects of household and neighborhood conditions accounted for approximately 35%, 27% and 14% of the total association between education and SPPB scores, grip strength level, and peak expiratory flow level, respectively.Household disorder and street disorder partially accounted for educational disparities in physical capacity. However, educational disparities in SPPB scores and peak expiratory flow persisted after accounting for household and neighborhood conditions and chronic conditions, suggesting additional pathways. Interventions and policies aiming to support aging in place should consider addressing household-level and street-level disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-75
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume128
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

Keywords

  • Disability
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Household conditions
  • Neighborhood
  • Older adults
  • Physical function
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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