Further evidence on recent trends in the prevalence and incidence of disability among older Americans from two sources: the LSOA and the NHIS

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 1997 Mar;52(2):S59-71. doi: 10.1093/geronb/52b.2.s59.


The Longitudinal Study on Aging (LSOA) and the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) are used to examine change in the prevalence of disability from 1982 through 1993 for persons 70 years of age and over. Changes in the likelihood of becoming disabled and the likelihood of recovering from disability also are investigated with the LSOA. There is some evidence for improving disability status among the old. The prevalence of disability is somewhat lower in more recent years in the NHIS; also, the incidence of disability is lower, and the rate of recovery higher during 1988-90 than in the 1984-86 interval. On the other hand, the prevalence of disability increases at some dates after 1984 in the LSOA sample. In both datasets, there is fluctuation rather than a clear trend in the prevalence of disability. Continued steady improvement in rates of onset and recovery and a consistent trend toward improving prevalence is needed before concluding that we are witnessing the beginning of an ongoing trend toward improving health among the older population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • United States / epidemiology