Understanding Non-Performance Reports for Instrumental Activity of Daily Living Items in Population Analyses

A Cross Sectional Study

Published in: BMC Geriatrics, 2016

Posted on RAND.org on April 12, 2016

by Margaret G. Stineman, Dawei W. Xie, Qiang Pan, Jibby E. Kurichi, Debra Saliba, Sophia Miryam Rose, Joel E Streim

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BACKGROUND: Concerns about using Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) in national surveys come up frequently in geriatric and rehabilitation medicine due to high rates of non-performance for reasons other than health. We aim to evaluate the effect of different strategies of classifying "does not do" responses to IADL questions when estimating prevalence of IADL limitations in a national survey. Methods: Cross-sectional analysis of a nationally representative sample of 13,879 non-institutionalized adult Medicare beneficiaries included in the 2010 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS). Sample persons or proxies were asked about difficulties performing six IADLs. Tested strategies to classify non-performance of IADL(s) for reasons other than health were to 1) derive through multiple imputation, 2) exclude (for incomplete data), 3) classify as "no difficulty," or 4) classify as "difficulty." IADL stage prevalence estimates were compared across these four strategies. RESULTS: In the sample, 1853 sample persons (12.4 % weighted) did not do one or more IADLs for reasons other than physical problems or health. Yet, IADL stage prevalence estimates differed little across the four alternative strategies. Classification as "no difficulty" led to slightly lower, while classification as "difficulty" raised the estimated population prevalence of disability. CONCLUSIONS: These analyses encourage clinicians, researchers, and policy end-users of IADL survey data to be cognizant of possible small differences that can result from alternative ways of handling unrated IADL information. At the population-level, the resulting differences appear trivial when applying MCBS data, providing reassurance that IADL items can be used to estimate the prevalence of activity limitation despite high rates of non-performance.

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