Disability and frailty among elderly Canadians: a comparison of six surveys

Int Psychogeriatr. 2001;13 Supp 1:159-67. doi: 10.1017/s1041610202008104.


The first wave of the Canadian Study of Health and Aging (CSHA) constituted a large health survey of a representative sample of elderly Canadians. Other Canadian surveys from the same era provided equivalent figures, and the present report compares the results of 6 surveys on a variety of health indicators. Agreement was close on self-reported chronic health conditions, adequate for several indicators of functional limitation, but was lower for overall self-ratings of the impact of health problems on day-to-day life. Using the CSHA data to compare alternative operational definitions of frailty, a definition based on ADL limitations appeared to offer an underestimate; addition of IADL questions or cognitive limitations provided figures that appeared more plausible. Survey estimates of chronic health conditions appear consistent, as are estimates of certain ADL disabilities. Care must be taken with interpreting more subjective reports, while prevalence of frailty varies considerably according to the definition used.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / classification
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Epidemiologic Research Design
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly / statistics & numerical data*
  • Geriatric Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male