Chronic diseases in elderly men: underreporting and underdiagnosis

Age Ageing. 2012 Mar;41(2):177-83. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afr153. Epub 2011 Dec 5.


Objective: prevalence estimates for chronic diseases and associated risk factors are needed for priority setting and disease prevention strategies. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to estimate the self-reported and clinical prevalence of common chronic disorders in elderly men.

Study design and setting: a questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 4,975 men aged 60-74 years. An age-stratified randomised sample (n = 1,845) of those with complete questionnaires was invited to participate in a telephone interview (n = 864), followed by physical examination (n = 600). Self-reported data on risk factors and disease prevalence were compared with data from hospital medical records.

Results: physical inactivity, smoking and excessive alcohol intake were reported by 27, 22 and 17% of the study population, respectively. Except for diabetes, all the chronic diseases investigated, including hypertension, musculoskeletal and respiratory diseases were underreported by study participants. Erectile dysfunction and hypogonadism were substantially underreported in the study population even though these diseases were found to affect 48 and 21% of the participants, respectively.

Conclusions: the study showed a high prevalence of detrimental life style factors including smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and physical inactivity in elderly Danish men. Except for diabetes and respiratory disease, chronic diseases were underreported and in particular erectile dysfunction and osteoporosis were underdiagnosed in the study population, underlining the importance of awareness of chronic diseases among both the general population and physicians.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Men's Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Sex Factors
  • Telephone