Value of Functional Status as a Predictor of Mortality

Results of a Prospective Study

Published in: The American Journal of Medicine, v. 93, no. 6, Dec. 1992, p. 663-669

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1991

by David Reuben, Lisa V. Rubenstein, Susan H. Hirsch, Ron D. Hays

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To assess the value of functional status questions in predicting mortality, the authors conducted a 4-year prospective longitudinal follow-up study of functionally impaired community-dwelling elderly persons. By means of a multivariate model, the following baseline characteristics were independently predictive of death: greater dysfunction on a scale of intermediate activities of daily living, male gender, living alone, white race, better quality of social interactions, and age. Initial baseline functional measures were also predictive of follow-up health status perceptions. The assessment of information on physical functioning and the quality of social interactions provides prognostic information regarding mortality. Furthermore, of the independent predictors of death identified in this sample, only functional impairment and living alone are remediable. Whether improving functional status can reduce the risk of mortality remains to be determined.

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