Date Presented 04/21/2023

This study compared older adults’ cognitive and physical functions among Korea, China, and Japan. We aimed to control for demographic variables and compare health among the three countries.

Primary Author and Speaker: Nam Sanghun

Additional Authors and Speakers: Inhye Kim, Ickpyo Hong

PURPOSE: A typical health problem associated with aging is a decline in cognitive and physical functions. As the aging population grows, comparative studies on the health of older adults in each country were conducted to solve health problems related to cognitive and physical functions. In previous studies, a universal scale was developed to compare the health of older adults in Korea, China, and Japan. However, cultural differences were excluded, while the health compared of the three countries. Therefore, after adjusting for the cultural differences, this study aimed to compare health among three countries.

DESIGN: A cross-sectional study.

METHOD: This study used panel data from Korea (n = 934), China (n = 2,506), and Japan (n = 178). The Rasch-calibrated scale was developed in previous studies, consisting of 13 cognitive and 20 physical function items. The control variables used to compare the health of older adults in the three countries were age, sex, self-report of health, chronic diseases, educational attainment, marital status, working status, smoking, and drinking status.

RESULTS: After adjusting for demographic variables, Korea had the highest cognitive function compared to Japan and China. Still, there was no statistically significant difference in all three countries. Also, physical function was the highest in Korea compared to Japan (β = −1.08, p < .0001) and China (β = −1.40, p < .0001) after adjusting for demographic variables, and both showed statistically significant differences.

CONCLUSION: This study presented the importance of two conditions needed to compare the health of older adults between countries. The first condition is a universal scale between the three countries, and the second is a control of demographic variables across the three countries.

IMPACT STATEMENT: This comparison of the health of older adults between countries can provide a basis for discussing health issues and treatment interventions caused by aging in the world.


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