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ELSA study finds age discrimination associated with poor health

A recent study from ELSA published in The Lancet Public Health, has found an association between perceived age discrimination and poor health.

The study used data from over 7,000 people aged 50 or older, who took part in a face-to-face interview and returned a self-completion questionnaire containing questions around age discrimination.

Perceived age discrimination was reported by 1,943 participants (25%). These participants were more likely to report fair or poor health. They were also more likely to have coronary heart disease, chronic lung disease, arthritis, limiting long-standing illness, and depressive symptoms than those in the study who did not report experiencing age discrimination.

For over 5,000 of the study participants, data were collected covering 6 years after the initial assessment. Over this time, perceived age discrimination was associated with the deterioration of self-rated health and coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, chronic lung disease, limiting long-standing illness and depressive symptoms.

This is the first study to comprehensively examine the link between age discrimination and health and wellbeing. In a society with an increasing older population, this study emphasises the public health need for effective interventions to combat age discrimination and stigma.

“This is a substantial issue that seems to have quite a significant impact on health and wellbeing. So it is really a call for action for strategies,” said Dr Sarah Jackson from University College London, the lead author of the study.


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