Relationship Between Chronic Conditions and Disability in African American Men and Women.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Race differences in chronic conditions and disability are well established; however, little is known about the association between specific chronic conditions and disability in African Americans. This is important because African Americans have higher rates and earlier onset of both chronic conditions and disability than white Americans.


We examined the relationship between chronic conditions and disability in 602 African Americans aged 50 years and older in the Baltimore Study of Black Aging. Disability was measured using self-report of difficulty in activities of daily living (ADL). Medical conditions included diagnosed self-reports of asthma, depressive symptoms, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke, and hypertension.


After adjusting for age, high school graduation, income, and marital status, African Americans who reported arthritis (women: odds ratio (OR)=4.87; 95% confidence interval(CI): 2.92-8.12; men: OR=2.93; 95% CI: 1.36-6.30) had higher odds of disability compared to those who did not report having arthritis. Women who reported major depressive symptoms (OR=2.59; 95% CI: 1.43-4.69) or diabetes (OR=1.83; 95% CI: 1.14-2.95) had higher odds of disability than women who did not report having these conditions. Men who reported having CVD (OR=2.77; 95% CI: 1.03-7.41) had higher odds of disability than men who did not report having CVD.


These findings demonstrate the importance of chronic conditions in understanding disability in African Americans and how it varies by gender. Also, these findings underscore the importance of developing health promoting strategies focused on chronic disease prevention and management to delay or postpone disability in African Americans.

Publication indices

Pubmed, Pubmed Central, Web of Science database.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Thorpe, RJ; Wynn, AJ; Walker, JL; Smolen, JR; Cary, MP; Szanton, SL; Whitfield, KE

Published Date

  • February 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 108 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 90 - 98

PubMed ID

  • 26928493

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5809332

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1943-4693

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0027-9684

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jnma.2015.12.012


  • eng