Geographical variations in self-rated health and functional limitations among older Chinese in eight WHO-SAGE provinces

Vasoontara Yiengprugsawan*, Catherine D'Este, Julie Byles, Hal Kendig

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: The proportion of population ageing in China will grow significantly in the next few decades but the pace of population ageing and social change vary considerably across regions. Notably, Eastern coastal areas are economically more advanced compared to the Western region. These economic disparities could result in differing adverse health outcomes. Methods: We investigate geographical variations in self-rated overall health and functional limitations in a national representative sample of Chinese aged 50 years and older (n = 13,175) using the WHO Study on global AGEing and adult health (WHO SAGE). We used multivariable logistic regression to investigate urban-rural inequalities across regions, adjusting for sociodemographic and health covariates. Two main outcomes were self-rated overall health and functional limitations based on the WHO Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0 for a range of daily activities. Results: The largest urban-rural differences in adverse health outcomes were in Shandong (AORs for urban versus rural of 6.32 [95% Confidence Interval 4.53-8.82] for poor or very poor self-rated overall health and 5.14 [CI 3.55-7.44] for functional limitations), followed by Jilin (AORs 2.71 [CI 2.04-3.61] and 4.72 [CI 3.43-6.49]), and Hubei (AORs 2.36 [CI 1.82-3.07] and 4.11 [CI 2.80-6.04]), respectively. Covariates significantly associated with both adverse health outcomes were older age, poor income, no health insurance, and increasing number of chronic diseases. Conclusion: Our study reveals substantial disparities between urban and rural areas observed in both the well-developed areas (eg Shandong) and also the lower end of the economic spectrum (eg Hubei and Jilin). Targeted economic development policy and systematic health prevention and healthcare policies could be beneficial in improving health in later life whilst minimising geographical inequalities.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number10
    JournalBMC Geriatrics
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2019


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