Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
REBOUCAS, Mônica and PEREIRA, Maurício Gomes. Health indicators in the elderly: a comparison of Brazil and the United States. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2008, vol.23, n.4, pp. 237-246. ISSN 1020-4989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892008000400003.
OBJECTIVE: To identify indicators used in evaluating the population 65 years of age and older in Brazil that are comparable to those used in the United States, and to compare the situation of this age group in the two countries. METHOD:This was a descriptive, cross-sectional study, based on secondary data. Brazilian equivalents to the well-being indicators employed in the United States were searched in websites published by government health or planning institutions. Data from national surveys were also employed, and when necessary, data from existing databases were reanalyzed. RESULTS:Of the 31 indicators used in the United States, an equivalent in Brazil was not found for only three: memory impairment, social activity, and violent crime. In the United States, the number of older individuals was greater; level of education was also higher in this age group. The two countries were similar in terms of health status and life expectancy at 65 years of age. Death rates due to cerebrovascular disease and diabetes were higher in Brazil, while death rates due to malignant neoplasms were higher in the United States. Disabilities and self-reported morbidity due to arthritis and depression were more frequent in the United States. The self-perception of health status as good was higher in Brazil, whereas the indicators related to life habits and risk factors indicated a more favorable situation in the United States. CONCLUSIONS: If the discriminating power of the indicators is truly adequate, the health conditions of the elderly in these two countries are similar.
Keywords : Indicators; aged; health of the elderly; Brazil; United States of America.