Discovering unhealthiness: Evidence from cluster analysis

Elsevier B.V.
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Annals of Epidemiology, 2013, 23 (10), pp. 614 - 619
Issue Date:
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Purpose This study examines information on an array of health limitations, chronic conditions, treatments, and drug consumptions to reveal the prevalence and severity of unhealthiness that are not directly observed. Methods Cluster analysis is applied to 265,468 individuals who participated in the 45 and Up Study in Australia. Results Among the study participants, 8% of those age 45-54 years, 10% of those age 55-64, 13% of those age 65-74, and 17% of those age 75 and older were classified as unhealthy. For the youngest individuals, unhealthiness is characterized by moderate-to-high mental distress, a poor physical health score equivalent to the score associated with having four major limitations in physical functioning, teeth health less than good, and having been diagnosed with at least two chronic conditions. The oldest individuals also suffer from these limitations, as well as dependence on at least three different drug groups and two medical treatments, but they are in better mental health state. Conclusions Understanding unhealthiness across population groups will result in more effective allocation of health resources. Older populations require more resources to be devoted to the management of physical health and chronic illnesses.
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