Funding: National Institute on Aging 2008-2009 (3 P30 AG012846)
The proposed supplement will fund a collaborative effort by members of the NIA-funded TRENDS Disability Research Network. The overarching goal is to reconcile emerging, divergent evidence regarding what has in the past been called “one of the most significant advances in the health and well-being of Americans in the past quarter century” (Schoeni et al. 2008), namely, the decline in late-life disability prevalence. Collaborating scholars will coordinate analysis of four national surveys – the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS), the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), and the National Long Term Care Survey (NLTCS) – according to a commonly determined protocol. A face-to-face meeting will be held for collaborators to jointly review the empirical evidence and produce a definitive statement on the latest trends. Three specific questions will be addressed:
• Has disability prevalence among the 65 and older population continued to decline, stagnated, or reversed course in the first decade of the 21st century?
• How do trends differ by measure? That is, do patterns differ for limitations in personal care activities, domestic activities, and upper and lower body functions?
• Do trends differ across age groups – young old (65-74), old (75-84), and oldest old (85+)?
To the extent that trends diverge across surveys, network members will investigate the role of survey design features, with a particular emphasis on differences in question wording. The effort is expected to produce a timely, peer-reviewed publication that will be widely disseminated to scientific and policy audiences. A prompt resolution of divergent evidence is critical to improving demographic projections that are the basis for health and social service forecasts for the aging baby boom. Moreover, if awarded this year, such a supplement would offer the unique opportunity to inform the design of BSR’s latest survey initiative: a new national study of disability trends and dynamics (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-AG-08-007.html).
Country of Focus: USA
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