Physical function assessment in a community-dwelling population of U.S. Chinese older adults

Xinqi Dong, E. Shien Chang, Melissa A. Simon

Publication Date: 01/01/2014

Background. This report describes the levels of physical function in U.S. Chinese older adults utilizing self-reported and performance-based measures, and examines the association between sociodemographic characteristics and physical function. Methods. The Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago enrolled an epidemiological cohort of 3,159 community-dwelling Chinese older adults aged 60 and older. We collected self-reported physical function using Katz activities of daily living and Lawton instrumental activities of daily living items, the Index of Mobility scale, and the Index of Basic Physical Activities scale. Participants were also asked to perform tasks in chair stand, tandem stand, and timed walk. We computed Pearson and Spearman correlation coefficients to examine the correlation between sociodemographic and physical function variables. Results. A total of 7.8% of study participants experienced activities of daily living impairment, and 50.2% experienced instrumental activities of daily living impairment. With respect to physical performance testing, 11.4% of the participants were not able to complete chair stand for five times, 8.5% of the participants were unable to do chair stands at all. Older age, female gender, lower education level, being unmarried, living with fewer people in the same household, having fewer children, living fewer years in the United States, living fewer years in the community, and worsening health status were significantly correlated with lower levels of physical function. Conclusions. Utilizing self-reported and performance-based measures of physical function in a large populationbased study of U.S. Chinese older adults, our findings expand current understanding of minority older adults’ functional status.