Estimates and Determinants of Valid Self-Reports of Musculoskeletal Disease in the Elderly

Susan L. Hughes*, Perry Edelman, Bruce Naughton, Ruth H. Singer, Patrick Schuette, George Liang, Rowland W. Chang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This study examined the extent and nature of bias associated with self-reported versus standardized physician-examination/assessment-based accounts of musculoskeletal disease in a sample of 406 persons chosen to represent an aging and dependency continuum. Prevalence of musculoskeletal disease based on standardized physician examination/assessments was 97%. Using the standardized findings as the criterion, the self-report underestimated prevalence by 16%. Overall, the results indicated that self-reports of musculoskeletal conditions by the elderly capture the vast majority of persons with painful or functionally significant disease and are most valid for persons from ages 65 to 74 but do not reflect the presence of asymptomatic joint pathology. Standardized physician examinations/assessments would more accurately determine the presence of risk factors in epidemiological studies of musculoskeletal disability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-263
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of aging and health
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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