, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 37-44

Disability-free life expectancy: a cross-national comparison of six longitudinal studies on aging. The CLESA project

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Disability-free life expectancy (DFLE) was compared in six countries taking part in the Cross-national Determinants of Quality of Life and Health Services for the Elderly (CLESA) project. Data from six existing longitudinal studies were used: TamELSA (Tampere, Finland), CALAS (Israel), ILSA (Italy), LASA (The Netherlands), Aging in Leganés (Leganés, Spain) and SATSA (Sweden). A harmonised four-item disability measure (bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting) was used to calculate DFLE; the harmonised measure was dichotomised into ‘independent in all four activities’ vs. ‘dependent in at least one’. Calculations of DFLE were made using the multistate life table approach and the IMaCh program (INED/EuroREVES, http://eurorevesinedfr/imach/) for subjects aged 65–89 years. Prevalence ratios of disability varied significantly across countries, with Italy and Leganés having the highest percentages among men and among women, respectively, while The Netherlands presented the lowest for both sexes. At 75 years of age the estimated total life expectancy among men ranged from 7.8 years in Tampere and Sweden to 9.0 years in Israel; among women it ranged from 9.5 years in Israel to 11.6 years in Italy. For both sexes Italy showed the lowest total life expectancy without disability (72% among men, 61% among women) and Sweden the highest (89% among men and 71% among women). The results yielded a north/south gradient, with residents in Tampere, The Netherlands and Sweden expected to spend a higher percentage of their lives without disability than those in Italy, Israel and Leganés.