Open Access Open Badges Research article

Multilevel analysis of covariation in socioeconomic predictors of physical functioning and psychological well-being among older people in rural Vietnam

Hoang Van Minh1*, Dao Lan Huong2, Stig Wall3, Nguyen Thi Kim Chuc1 and Peter Byass3

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Public Health, Hanoi Medical University Vietnam, Hanoi, Vietnam

2 Health Strategy and Policy Institute, Hanoi, Vietnam

3 Umeå International School of Public Health, Umeå, Sweden

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BMC Geriatrics 2010, 10:7  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-10-7

Published: 11 February 2010



There remains a lack of research on co-variation of multiple health outcomes and their socio-economic co-patterning, especially among the elderly. This papers aims to 1) examine the effects of different socio-economic factors on physical functioning and psychological well-being among older adults in a rural community in northern Vietnam; and 2) investigate the extent to which the two outcomes variables co-vary within individuals.


We analyzed the data from the WHO/INDEPTH study on global ageing and adult health conducted on 8535 people aged 50 years old and over in Bavi district of Vietnam in 2006. A multivariate response model was constructed to answer our research questions. The model treats the individual as a level two unit and the multiple measurements observed within an individual as a level one unit.


Lower physical functioning and psychological well-being were found in 1) women; 2) older people; 3) people with lower education level; 4) people who were currently single; 5) respondents from poorer household; and 6) mountainous dwellers compared to that in those of other category(ies) of the same variable. Socioeconomic factors accounted for about 24% and 7% of variation in physical functioning and psychological well-being scores, respectively. The adjusted correlation coefficient (0.35) indicates that physical functioning and psychological well-being did not strongly co-vary.


The present study shows that there exist problems of inequality in health among older adults in the study setting. This finding highlights the importance of analyzing multiple dimensions of health status simultaneously in inequality investigations.