A pilot study among older adults of the concordance between their self-reports to a health survey and spousal proxy reports on their behalf.

TitleA pilot study among older adults of the concordance between their self-reports to a health survey and spousal proxy reports on their behalf.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsWolinsky, FD, Ayres, L, Jones, MP, Lou, Y, Wehby, GL, Ullrich, F
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Volume16
Pagination485
Date Published2016
ISSN Number1472-6963
KeywordsMarriage, Meta-analyses, Older Adults, Proxies, Self-reported health
Abstract

BACKGROUND: Proxy respondents are frequently used in health surveys, and the proxy is most often the spouse. Longstanding concerns linger, however, about the validity of using spousal proxies, especially for older adults. The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the concordance between self-reports and spousal proxy reports to a standard health survey in a small convenience sample of older married couples.

METHODS: We used the Seniors Together in Aging Research (STAR) volunteer registry at the University of Iowa to identify and consent a cross-sectional, convenience sample of 28 married husband and wife couples. Private, personal interviews with each member of the married couple using a detailed health survey based on the 2012 Health and Retirement Study (HRS) instrument were conducted using computer assisted personal interviewing software. Within couples, each wife completed the health survey first for herself and then for her husband, and each husband completed the health survey first for himself and then for his wife. The health survey topics included health ratings, health conditions, mobility, instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), health services use, and preventative services. Percent of agreement and prevalence and bias adjusted kappa statistics (PABAKs) were used to evaluate concordance.

RESULTS: PABAK coefficients indicated moderate to excellent concordance (PABAKs >0.60) for most of the IADL, health condition, hospitalization, surgery, preventative service, and mobility questions, but only slight to fair concordance (PABAKs = -0.21 to 0.60) for health ratings, and physician and dental visits.

CONCLUSIONS: These results do not allay longstanding concerns about the validity of routinely using spousal proxies in health surveys to obtain health ratings or the number of physician and dental visits among older adults. Further research is needed in a nationally representative sample of older couples in which each wife completes the health survey first for herself and then for her husband, each husband completes the health survey first for himself and then for his wife, and both spouses' Medicare claims are linked to their health survey responses to determine not just the concordance between spousal reports, but the concordance of those survey responses to the medical record.

DOI10.1186/s12913-016-1734-6
Alternate JournalBMC Health Serv Res
Citation Key8677
PubMed ID27612571
PubMed Central IDPMC5017056