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Gender differences and burden of chronic conditions: impact on quality of life among the elderly in Taiwan

  • Tsung Yu
  • Nomin Enkh-Amgalan
  • Ganchimeg Zorigt
  • Yea-Jen Hsu
  • Hsin-Jen Chen
  • Hsing-Yu YangEmail author
Original Article
  • 35 Downloads

Abstract

Background

Multiple chronic conditions affect people’s health-related quality of life (QoL) and the distributions of the conditions may differ between genders. Our goal was to examine gender differences in chronic conditions and QoL among community-living elderly in Taiwan and to examine whether differences in QoL between genders, if present, were attributable to the distribution of chronic conditions.

Methods

We used data from the Nutrition and Health Survey in Taiwan (NAHSIT, 2005–2008), which interviewed a representative sample of the Taiwanese population. The survey questions included the SF-36 questionnaire to assess participants’ QoL and items for participants’ medical history. We used multiple linear regressions to examine the difference in QoL between genders.

Results

We included 1179 elders for our analysis; men accounted for 52% (612/1179). The mean age was 73; women were slightly younger. The mean (standard deviation) of SF-36 physical and mental health component score (PCS and MCS) was 44.5 (11.1) and 55.6 (9.0), respectively, and women reported a significantly lower PCS than men (difference − 4.85, p < 0.001). Urinary incontinence, arthritis, stroke, and kidney disease were associated with a clinically meaningful decrease in PCS (≤ − 6.5 points). The difference in PCS between genders was not attenuated after we accounted for chronic conditions in regression analysis.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that women tend to report that their physical health-related QoL is poorer than that of men, and such a difference does not seem to be attributable to the distribution of chronic conditions. Elderly men and women may perceive health-related QoL differently.

Keywords

Health-related quality of life Gender differences Chronic conditions Health survey 

Abbreviations

MCS

Mental health component score

NAHSIT

Nutrition and health survey in Taiwan

PCS

Physical health component score

QoL

Quality of life

SF-36

Short form 36

Notes

Acknowledgements

Data analyzed in this paper were collected by the research project “Nutrition and Health Survey in Taiwan (NAHSIT 2005–2008)” sponsored by the Department of Health in Taiwan (DOH94-fs-6-4). This research project was carried out by the Center for Survey Research of the Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences of Academia Sinica, directed by Professor Wen-Harn Pan. The Office of Nutrition Survey, the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica is responsible for data distribution. The assistance provided by the institutes and efforts made by all contributed to the survey are greatly appreciated. The views expressed herein are solely those of the authors.

Author contributions

TY study design, data analysis, and manuscript preparation. NEA study design and manuscript preparation. GZ study design and manuscript preparation. YJH manuscript preparation. HJC manuscript preparation. HY study design and manuscript preparation. All authors read and approved the final version of manuscript.

Funding

TY was partly funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology in Taiwan. HY was funded by Mackay Medical College (1071B07 & 1061B05). NEA and GZ were partly funded by the Department of Public Health, China Medical University, Taiwan.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical approval

The survey implementation and instruments were approved by the Institutional Review Board of Academia Sinica, Taiwan.

Informed consent

All participants signed the informed consent forms.

Supplementary material

40520_2018_1099_MOESM1_ESM.docx (34 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 33 KB)

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tsung Yu
    • 1
  • Nomin Enkh-Amgalan
    • 2
  • Ganchimeg Zorigt
    • 2
  • Yea-Jen Hsu
    • 3
  • Hsin-Jen Chen
    • 4
  • Hsing-Yu Yang
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Public Health, College of MedicineNational Cheng Kung UniversityTainanTaiwan
  2. 2.Mongolian National University of Medical SciencesUlaanbaatarMongolia
  3. 3.Department of Health Policy and ManagementJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.Institute of Public HealthNational Yang-Ming UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  5. 5.Department of NursingMackay Medical CollegeNew Taipei CityTaiwan

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