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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Determinants of health-related quality of life in elderly in Tehran, Iran

Maryam Tajvar12, Mohammad Arab2 and Ali Montazeri3*

Author Affiliations

1 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK

2 Department of Health Management and Economics, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Iranian Institute for Health Sciences Research, Tehran, Iran

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:323  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-323

Published: 22 September 2008

Abstract

Background

As Iran started to experience population ageing, it is important to consider and address the elderly people's needs and concerns, which might have direct impacts on their well-being and quality of life. There have been only a few researches into different aspects of life of the elderly population in Iran including their health-related quality of life. The purpose of this study was to measure health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of elderly Iranians and to identify its some determinant factors.

Methods

This was a cross-sectional survey of a random sample of community residents of Tehran aged 65 years old and over. HRQoL was measured using the Short From Health Survey (SF-36). The study participants were interviewed at their homes. Uni-variate analysis was performed for group comparison and logistic regression analysis conducted to predict quality of life determinants.

Results

In all, 400 elderly Iranian were interviewed. The majority of the participants were men (56.5%) and almost half of the participants were illiterate (n = 199, 49.8%). Eighty-five percent of the elderly were living with their family or relatives and about 70% were married. Only 12% of participants evaluated their economic status as being good and most of people had moderate or poor economic status. The mean scores for the SF-36 subscales ranged from 70.0 (SD = 25.9) for physical functioning to 53.5 (SD = 29.1) for bodily pain and in general, the respondents significantly showed better condition on mental component of the SF-36 than its physical component (mean scores 63.8 versus 55.0). Performing uni-variate analysis we found that women reported significantly poorer HRQoL. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that for the physical component summary score of the SF-36, age, gender, education and economic status were significant determinants of poorer physical health-related quality of life; while for the mental component summary score only gender and economic status were significant determinants of poorer mental health-related quality of life. The analysis suggested that the elderly people's economic status was the most significant predictor of their HRQoL.

Conclusion

The study findings, although with a small number of participants, indicate that elderly people living in Tehran, Iran suffer from relatively poor HRQoL; particularly elderly women and those with lower education. Indeed to improve quality of life among elderly Iranians much more attention should be paid to all aspects of their life including their health, and economic status.