The associations between self-rated vision and hearing and functional status in middle age.
OBJECTIVES: To describe the associations between self-reported visual and hearing impairment and an index of global functional status among community-dwelling, middle-aged Americans. DESIGN: Cross-sectional. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 9744 U.S. community-dwelling persons 51 to 61 years of age participated. METHODS: Multivariate analyses of functional status based on cross-sectional data from Wave I (1992) of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), controlling for demographic and socioeconomic status, common chronic medical conditions, and general health status, were performed. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: A global index of functional status based on self-reported limitations in 17 activities was measured. RESULTS: Approximately 3% of respondents in the HRS rated their vision or hearing as poor. Even after controlling for demographic factors, socioeconomic status, medical conditions, and general health status, limitations in both vision and hearing were independently correlated with worse functional status. In addition, controlling for income, wealth, and education reduced the strength of the associations between vision and hearing impairment and function, but did not eliminate them. The magnitude of effect of poor vision exceeded all medical conditions except stroke. CONCLUSIONS: Visual and hearing impairment appear to have a significant relationship with overall functional status, among even community-dwelling, middle-aged Americans and even after controlling for general health status, medical comorbidities, and socioeconomic status.
Lee, PP; Smith, JP; Kington, RS
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