Age, time, and cohort effects on functional status and self-rated health in elderly men

Am J Public Health. 1997 Oct;87(10):1620-5. doi: 10.2105/ajph.87.10.1620.


Objectives: This study investigated age-related changes in functional status and self-rated health in elderly men, taking into account changes over time and differences between birth cohorts.

Methods: The Zutphen Elderly Study is a longitudinal study of men born in the Netherlands between 1900 and 1920. Functional status and self-rated health were measured in 513 men in 1990, in 381 men in 1993, and in 340 men in 1995. Age, time, and cohort effects were analyzed in a mixed longitudinal model.

Results: Longitudinal analyses showed that during 5 years of follow-up, the proportion of men without disabilities decreased from 53% to 39%, whereas the percentage who rated themselves as healthy decreased from 50% to 35%. Cross-sectional analyses confirmed changes in functional status, suggesting an age effect. Time-series analyses confirmed changes in self-rated health, suggesting a time effect. No birth-cohort effects were found.

Conclusions: Functional status deteriorates with age, whereas self-rated health is not related to age in men aged 70 years and older. The observed 5-year decline in self-rated health seemed to be due to a secular trend.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Cohort Effect
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Random Allocation
  • Self Disclosure
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors