Female disability disadvantage: a global perspective on sex differences in physical function and disability.

TitleFemale disability disadvantage: a global perspective on sex differences in physical function and disability.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsWheaton, FV, Crimmins, EM
JournalAgeing Soc
Date Published2016 Jul
ISSN Number0144-686X

The objectives were to determine whether women always fare more poorly in terms of physical function and disability across countries that vary widely in terms of their level of development, epidemiologic context and level of gender equality. Sex differences in self-reported and objective measures of disability and physical function were compared among older adults aged 55-85 in the United States of America, Taiwan, Korea, Mexico, China, Indonesia and among the Tsimane of Bolivia using population-based studies collected between 2001 and 2011. Data were analysed using logistic and ordinary least-squares regression. Confidence intervals were examined to see whether the effect of being female differed significantly between countries. In all countries, women had consistently worse physical functioning (both self-reported and objectively measured). Women also tended to report more difficulty with activities of daily living (ADL), although differences were not always significant. In general, sex differences across measures were less pronounced in China. In Korea, women had significantly lower grip strength, but sex differences in ADL difficulty were non-significant or even reversed. Education and marital status helped explain sex differences. Overall, there was striking similarity in the magnitude and direction of sex differences across countries despite considerable differences in context, although modest variations in the effect of sex were observed.

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Short TitleAgeing and Society
Alternate JournalAgeing Soc
Citation Key8664
PubMed ID27453613
PubMed Central IDPMC4957517
Grant ListP30 AG017265 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R01 AG018016 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
U01 AG009740 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States