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Cognitive impairment and syndromal depression in estimates ofactive life expectancy: the 13‐year follow‐up of the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area sample

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Objective: Our hypothesis was that including cognitive status and syndromal depression in specifying functional impairment would result in significant differences in estimates of active life expectancy from specifications that included only standard functional measures (such as activities of daily living).

Method: The subjects were the 3481 continuing participants of the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area Program. Interviews included criterion‐based diagnosis of depression, assessment of cognitive status and standard survey questions on function.

Results: Estimates of active life expectancy decreased from 9.8 years to 8.9 years at age 65 years for men, and from 10 years to 8.4 years at age 65 years for women, when the definition of active life expectancy included measures of cognitive impairment and syndromal depression.

Conclusion: Measurements of active life expectancy tend to ignore dependencies related to psychological causes, and should move beyond mere enumeration of activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living.

Keywords: health planning; health policy; health status indicators; life expectancy; mental health; mortality

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Mental Hygiene, 2: Department of Population and Family Health Sciences, School of Hygiene and Public Health, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland and 3: Research and Training Institute, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged, Boston, Massachusetts USA

Publication date: April 1, 2000

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