Methodology and feasibility of a home-based examination in disabled older women: The Women's Health and Aging Study

Eleanor M. Simonsick, Carla E. Maffeo, Susan K. Rogers, Elizabeth A. Skinner, Donna Davis, Jack M. Guralnik, Linda P. Fried

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Background. To ascertain disease and functional capacity in community- resident disabled older women in the Women's Health and Aging Study (WHAS), a prospective investigation of the causes and course of disability, a home- based standardized physical examination and performance test battery were developed. Thirty-nine tests were administered, 9 by a lay interviewer and 30 by a nurse. This scope and intensity of testing had not been performed previously in a home environment or on such a functionally limited population. Thus, substantial developmental work was required. This report describes the administrative procedures and field experience for each exam component, highlighting innovations pertinent to home administration. Methods. Exclusion criteria, safety issues, administration time, completion rates, and reasons for incomplete data are reported. Administration time is based on 30 exams conducted over a 3-week period 90% of the way through base- line data collection. Completion status was determined using all 1,002 participants and is categorized as follows: complete; partial; not done, health; not done, other; and refused. Results. Seventy-two percent of the screened, eligible respondents completed the 30-min interviewer-administered physical assessment and the 2-hr, 10-min nurse examination. Classifiable data were obtained for 90% of participants on 36 examination items. Lower completion rates were obtained on the other three tests primarily due to exclusions for health-related conditions; environmental constraints and participant refusal were minimal. Conclusion. Extensive, research-oriented physical evaluation can be successfully and safely performed in a home setting. In future studies, home-based examination may be preferable, as participation in the WHAS examination substantially exceeded rates for clinic-based exams in similar populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)M264-M274
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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