Self-Care Capacity and Its Relationship to Age, Disability, and Perceived Well-Being in Medicare Beneficiaries.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Self-care is a multicomponent set of capacities that influence beliefs about health and well-being.


We examined the relationship between self-care capacity, age, and disability status with two perceptions of well-being in a cohort of Medicare beneficiaries.


The current study is part of a multisite research project to determine factors associated with cross-sectional and longitudinal morbidity and mortality trajectories observed in Medicare beneficiaries. Variable selection was informed by the health disparities and outcomes model. Using data from the 2013 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey and logistic regression models, we determined associations between self-care capacity, including indicators of self-care ability and self-care agency and two perceptions of well-being. Participants were divided into four groups based on how they qualified for Medicare: (a) over 65 years of age, and below 65 years of age and disabled because of (b) physical or (c) mental disorder, or (d) disabled and could not be classified as physically or mentally disabled as the primary cause of eligibility.


Self-care ability limitations in activities of daily living (ADL), instrumental activities of living (IADL), and social activity participation were associated with both health perceptions. Those with physical disabilities reported more ADL and IADL limitations when compared with the other eligibility groups and were significantly more likely to have negative health perceptions. Those with serious mental illness were most likely to report the most severe IADL limitations. The over 65 years of age group reported less self-care incapacity than the other three eligibility types. Other components of self-care, including health literacy, agency, and health behaviors, significantly influenced perceptions of health. Women and people identifying as non-Whites were more likely to have negative health perceptions.


Self-care capacity is a complex construct, and its varied elements have differential relationships with perceptions of well-being. Those with physical disabilities reported more self-care limitations, poorer perceived health, and more health worries than the other groups. Still, there were different patterns of self-care capacities in the serious mental illness type-especially in IADL limitations. The study adds empirical evidence to previous research documenting inequities in health outcomes for women and non-Whites. Findings provide empirical support for the health disparities and outcomes model.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hauenstein, EJ; Davey, A; Clark, RS; Daly, S; You, W; Merwin, EI

Published Date

  • January 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 71 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 21 - 32

PubMed ID

  • 34534184

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8732301

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1538-9847

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0029-6562

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/nnr.0000000000000551


  • eng