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Cohort differences in disease and disability in the young-old: Findings from the MRC Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (MRC-CFAS)

Jagger, Carol; Matthews, Ruth J.; Matthews, Fiona E.; Spiers, Nicola A.; Nickson, Judith; Paykel, Eugene S.; Huppert, Felicia A.; Brayne, Carol


Carol Jagger

Ruth J. Matthews

Nicola A. Spiers

Judith Nickson

Eugene S. Paykel

Felicia A. Huppert

Carol Brayne


Background. Projections of health and social care need are highly sensitive to assumptions about cohort trends in health and disability. We use a repeated population-based cross-sectional study from the Cambridgeshire centre of the UK Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study to investigate trends in the health of the young-old UK population. Methods. Non-overlapping cohorts of men and women aged 65-69 years in 1991/2 (n = 689) and 1996/7 (n = 687) were compared on: self-reported diseases and conditions; self-rated health; mobility limitation; disability by logistic regression and four-year survival by Cox Proportional Hazards Regression models, with adjustments for differences in socio-economic and lifestyle factors. Results. Survival was similar between cohorts (HR: 0.91, 95% CI: 0.62 to 1.32). There was a significant increase in the number of conditions reported between cohorts, with more participants reporting 3 or more conditions in the new cohort (14.2% vs. 10.1%). When individual conditions were considered, there was a 10% increase in the reporting of arthritis and a significant increase in the reporting of chronic airways obstruction (OR: 1.36, 95% CI: 1.04 to 1.78). Conclusion. This study provides evidence of rising levels of ill-health, as measured by the prevalence of self-reported chronic conditions, in the newer cohorts of the young-old. Though changes in diagnosis or reporting of disease cannot, as yet, be excluded, to better understand whether our findings reflect real increases in ill-health, investment should be made into improved population-based databases, linking self-report and objective measures of health and function, and including those in long-term care. © 2007 Jagger et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Jagger, C., Matthews, R. J., Matthews, F. E., Spiers, N. A., Nickson, J., Paykel, E. S., …Brayne, C. (2007). Cohort differences in disease and disability in the young-old: Findings from the MRC Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (MRC-CFAS). BMC public health, 7,

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Aug 20, 2007
Deposit Date Dec 8, 2023
Journal BMC Public Health
Print ISSN 1471-2458
Electronic ISSN 1471-2458
Publisher Springer Verlag
Volume 7
Public URL