Functioning profiles in a nationally representative cohort of Spanish older adults: A latent class study

Health Soc Care Community. 2020 Nov;28(6):2190-2198. doi: 10.1111/hsc.13031. Epub 2020 Jun 5.


Ageing well involves individuals continuing participating in personal, social and civic affairs even in older age. From this standpoint, limitations in individual's functioning (beyond the mere absence of disease) may drastically impact on how well people becoming older. This study aimed to identify functional status profiles in a nationally representative sample of older adults, using latent class analysis methods. Moreover, it intended to study the how identified classes would be related to health-related outcomes later in life, as a way to provide some evidence on predictive validity. Data from a nationally representative sample of Spanish older adults (N = 2,118; 56.18% women; M = 71.50 years, SD = 7.76), were used. Profiles were identified according to a large set of functioning indicators from multiple domains using latent class analysis. Outcomes were studied over a 3-year follow-up, considering both the individual (quality of life, well-being and mortality) and institutional level (health service utilisation). As a result, seven profiles were identified: normative profile (showed by most participants), limited cognitive functioning class, limited global functioning class, limited mental and mobility functioning class, poor self-reported health class, limited sensory functioning class and limited objective functioning class. All the profiles with limitations across domains showed poor outcomes. Multidimensional limitations were related to the worst outcomes, especially when psychosomatic complaints and high feelings of loneliness were reported. To sum up, latent class analysis constitutes a suitable alternative to study population heterogeneity, providing relevant evidence to help making decision in public and community health.

Keywords: Functioning profile; health service utilisation; latent class analysis; mortality risk; quality of life; well-being.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Health Services
  • Health Status
  • Healthy Aging / physiology*
  • Healthy Aging / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Latent Class Analysis
  • Loneliness
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Physical Functional Performance
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Report