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Trends in health related quality of life of women in their 70's and 80's


Decline in physical function is a common feature of older age. However, decline is not uniform or linear. Among individuals of similar chronological age, some individuals appear to be resistant to decline in function while others appear more vulnerable. This project explores factors associated with survival and maintenance of physical well-being among a large cohort of 12,432 women in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. Across five surveys, there has been a marked decline in physical health scores for the cohort, as measured by Short Form (SF-36) health related quality of life sub-scales. However, while average scores declined, a large proportion of the women experienced minimal change in physical health scores over the 12 years. Using latent profile analysis, we identified four main patterns in the scores among those who survived and stayed in the study at Survey 4: consistently higher scores (61% of women); declining scores (11% of women); consistently low scores (25% of women); increasing scores (3% of women.). Among survivors who remained in the study, factors associated with maintaining high SF-36 scores include fewer clinical diagnoses, healthy weight, and a range of social and behavioural factors.