Physical function and health status in aging Puerto Rican adults: the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study

Castaneda-Sceppa C, Price LL, Noel SE, Bassett Midle J, Falcon LM, Tucker KL.  Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.  J Aging Health. 2010 Aug;22(5):653-72. doi: 10.1177/0898264310366738. Epub 2010 May 21.

OBJECTIVES: This article describes physical function in Puerto Rican older adults and examines associations between health status and physical function. It also assesses relationships between physical function and disability.

METHOD: This study uses a cross-sectional study of Puerto Ricans 45 to 75 years in Boston (N = 1,357). Measures included performance-based physical function (handgrip strength, walking speed, balance, chair stands, foot tapping), health conditions (obesity, diabetes, depressive symptomatology, history of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and arthritis), and self-reported disability (activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living).

RESULTS: Older women (60-75 years) had the poorest physical function. Poor physical function was associated with obesity, diabetes, depression, history of heart attack, stroke, and arthritis, after adjusting for age, sex, education, income, and lifestyle (p < .05). Physical function and disability were correlated (p < .01).

DISCUSSION: Health status among Puerto Ricans appears to contribute to poor physical function. Targeted interventions to improve strength, endurance, and balance are needed to combat physical frailty and its consequences in this population.