Prevalence of major chronic conditions among older Chinese adults: the Study on Global AGEing and adult health (SAGE) wave 1

PLoS One. 2013 Sep 17;8(9):e74176. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0074176. eCollection 2013.


Background: The likely corresponding increase in prevalence of chronic disease will be a major challenge for the health care system. Few nationwide epidemiological studies include a large enough sample of older adults to provide estimates of chronic conditions in the older adult population. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of eight common chronic health conditions and examine socioeconomic inequalities in the diseases among older adults in China.

Method: Data are from SAGE-China Wave 1, including 13,157 people aged 50-plus years. Respondents were asked if they had been diagnosed with any of the following chronic medical conditions: angina, arthritis, asthma, stroke, diabetes, depression, chronic lung disease and hypertension. A set of validated symptom-based questions and related diagnostic algorithms were also used to estimate disease prevalence for angina, arthritis, asthma and depression. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to examine the probability of developing chronic conditions in relation to sociodemographic variables such as gender, age, urban/rural setting and household wealth level.

Results: Fifty percent of respondents reported having one of the selected chronic conditions, 18.9% two conditions, 5.8% three conditions, and 1.4% reported having four or more chronic conditions. Self-reported prevalence was generated for angina (8%), arthritis (22%), asthma (2%), stroke (3%), diabetes (7%), depression (0.3%), chronic lung disease (8%) and hypertension (27%). The symptom-based prevalence of angina, arthritis, asthma and depression was 10%, 20%, 4% and 2%, respectively.

Conclusion: This study provides the best available prevalence estimates for major chronic health conditions among older Chinese adults. Findings from this study indicated that major chronic conditions were common, so prevention and early intervention targeting adults aged 50 years and older should be prioritized.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • China / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Geography, Medical
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Public Health Surveillance
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors