Inequalities in Life Expectancy with Frailty among Brazilian Older Adults: A Multistate Approach

Luciana Correia Alves, Flávia Cristina Drumond Andrade, Ligiana Pires Corona, Jair Licio Ferreira Santos, Yeda Aparecida De Oliveira Duarte

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Background and Objectives: Frailty is considered one of the major conditions faced by aging societies. Little has been reported about the effect of becoming frail on life expectancy among older adults in developing countries. The aim was to estimate total life expectancy and life expectancy with or without frailty by age, sex, and education among older adults in Brazil. Data and Methods: The study was developed based on information provided by the Health, Well-being, and Aging (SABE) Study. The sample included 1,399 older adults (≥60 years old) followed up from 2006 to 2010. Frailty status was classified according to the Fried criteria. Additional variables include age (in years), gender, and years of education. Estimates of total life expectancy, frailty-free life expectancy, and frailty life expectancy were obtained using the multistate life table method. Results: At the baseline, the proportion of individuals with frailty was 13.7% and participants had, on average, 4.0 years of education. Men had more years of education than women (4.6 vs. 3.7, p <. 001). Older adults with higher education live fewer years with frailty. Compared with older adults with no education, those with 6 years of education have higher frailty-free life expectancy. At age 70, men with no education expect to live 9.1 years (95% confidence interval [CI] = 7.8, 10.4) without frailty compared with 10.6 years (95% CI = 9.4, 11.8) among those with 6 years of education. Among women age 70, frailty-free life expectancy reaches 11.7 years (95% CI = 10.6, 12.8) among those with no education, but 13.9 years (95% CI = 12.5, 15.3) among those with 6 years. Implications: Given the recent changes in educational achievement in Brazil, we believe that educational policies are powerful ways in addressing inequalities in healthy life expectancy. Public health policies aimed at avoiding the development of frailty among elderly at risk should be encouraged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInnovation in Aging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • Aging
  • Brazil
  • Education
  • Frailty
  • SABE study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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