Racial disparities in disability: Recent evidence from self-reported and performance-based disability measures in a population-based study of older adults

Carlos F. Mendes De Leon, Lisa L. Barnes, Julia L. Bienias, Kimberly A. Skarupski, Denis A. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives. Although disability levels have been declining in older adults, there is little current information on racial differences in disability. Methods. Our data came from a longitudinal, population-based study of 6,158 Black and White adults aged 65 and older from the south side of Chicago. Data were collected during three face-to-face interviews between 1993 and 2002. We ascertained disability using three self-report measures and a performance-based measure of physical function. Using longitudinal data analysis, we examined overall racial differences in disability and the degree to which they varied by age and gender. Results. After an average of 6 years of follow-up, Blacks reported significantly higher disability levels than Whites after adjustment for age and sex. There was a significant increase in disability during follow-up on all four measures. Racial differences in disability did not vary consistently by age at baseline or over time but were greater among women. Findings were largely similar for self-reported and performance-based measures of disability. Adjustment for socioeconomic status substantially reduced racial differences in disability, although some of the differences remained significant, especially among women. Conclusions. Racial disparities in disability have not been eliminated, are greater among women, and have their origins earlier in adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S263-S271
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume60
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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