Mortality and morbidity trends: is there compression of morbidity?

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2011 Jan;66(1):75-86. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbq088. Epub 2010 Dec 6.


Objective: This paper reviews trends in mortality and morbidity to evaluate whether there has been a compression of morbidity.

Methods: Review of recent research and analysis of recent data for the United States relating mortality change to the length of life without 1 of 4 major diseases or loss of mobility functioning.

Results: Mortality declines have slowed down in the United States in recent years, especially for women. The prevalence of disease has increased. Age-specific prevalence of a number of risk factors representing physiological status has stayed relatively constant; where risks decline, increased usage of effective drugs is responsible. Mobility functioning has deteriorated. Length of life with disease and mobility functioning loss has increased between 1998 and 2008.

Discussion: Empirical findings do not support recent compression of morbidity when morbidity is defined as major disease and mobility functioning loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Life Expectancy / trends
  • Male
  • Morbidity / trends*
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Distribution
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • United States / epidemiology