Details of Publication 284 for Project A089:

Ford J, Spallek M & Dobson A. Self rated health and a healthy lifestyle are the most important predictors of survival in elderly women. Age & Ageing, 2008; 37(2): 194-200

Objective: To test the hypothesis that morbidity and health related behavioural factors are stronger than social factors as predictors of death among older women.Methods: We used data from 12,422 participants in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health who were aged 70–75 in 1996. Proportional hazards models of survival up to 31 October 2005 were fitted separately for the whole cohort and those women who were initially in ‘good health’.Results: Among the whole cohort, 18.7% died during the follow up period. The strongest predictor of death was ‘poor’ or ‘fair’ self-rated health (with 52.3% and 28.0%, respectively, of women in these categories dying). Among the women in ‘good health’ at baseline 11.5% died, with current cigarette smoking (hazard ratio HR = 2.19, 95% confidence interval (1.71, 2.81), physical inactivity (HR = 1.45 (1.17, 1.81)), and age (HR = 1.10 (1.04, 1.16) per year) as statistically significant predictors ofdeath.Discussion: Among older women, current health and health related behaviours are stronger predictors than social factors of relatively early mortality. Adopting a healthier lifestyle, by doing more exercise and not smoking, is beneficial even in old age.

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