Online Program

Does Personal Assistance Substitute for Mobility Devices: A Simultaneous Equations Approach

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Hongdao Meng, MPH, PhD, School of Aging Studies, College of Behavioral & Community Sciences, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Lindsay Peterson, M.S., School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida Tampa, Tampa, FL
Personal assistance (human help) and mobility devices (cane, walker, wheelchair, and scooters) are important in facilitating community living and maintain quality of life in later life. Evidence regarding whether personal assistance can substitute for mobility devices is unclear. The objective of this study was to examine whether personal assistance substitute for the use of mobility devices for U.S. community-living older adults with mobility difficulties. We used the 2011 wave of the National Health and Aging Trend Study (NHATS) data. Two primary outcomes variables were: any use of mobility device and any use of personal assistance during the month before the baseline interview. We used a recursive simultaneous equations model to jointly estimate the effect of covariates on the likelihood of using various combinations of mobility devices and personal assistance to accommodate mobility difficulty. Independent variables included age, gender, race, physical/mental health status, cognition, comorbidities, and mobility difficulty. The average age of the study sample was 78 years and 58% were female. Multivariate analysis found that predictors of personal assistance and mobility devices exhibit important similarities and differences. Receiving personal assistance reduced the likelihood of using mobility device by 53% (OR=0.47, 95% CI: 0.33, 0.66). Women were much less likely to use mobility devices but were much more likely to use personal assistance. The findings suggest that personal assistance substitutes for mobility devices and important gender differences exist in the substitution. Further research is needed to examine the optimal combination of different accommodation approaches in promoting positive aging in the community.

Learning Areas:

Biostatistics, economics
Public health or related nursing
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe a new statistical approach to conduct simultaneous equations modeling in studying accommodations for functional limitations in older adults. Differentiate different impact of individual characteristic on personal assistance and mobility device use among U.S. older adults.

Keyword(s): Methodology, Disabilities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been teaching and conducting research in the area of public health and aging for over 15 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.