Intrinsic capacity and its associations with incident dependence and mortality in 10/66 Dementia Research Group studies in Latin America, India, and China: A population-based cohort study

Martin J. Prince, Daisy Acosta, Mariella Guerra, Yueqin Huang, K. S. Jacob, Ivonne Z. Jimenez-Velazquez, A. T. Jotheeswaran, Juan J. Llibre Rodriguez, Aquiles Salas, Ana Luisa Sosa, Isaac Acosta, Rosie Mayston, Zhaorui Liu, Jorge J. Llibre-Guerra, A. Matthew Prina, Adolfo Valhuerdi

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38 Scopus citations


Background The World Health Organization (WHO) has reframed health and healthcare for older people around achieving the goal of healthy ageing. The recent WHO Integrated Care for Older People (ICOPE) guidelines focus on maintaining intrinsic capacity, i.e., addressing declines in neuromusculoskeletal, vitality, sensory, cognitive, psychological, and continence domains, aiming to prevent or delay the onset of dependence. The target group with 1 or more declines in intrinsic capacity (DICs) is broad, and implementation may be challenging in less-resourced settings. We aimed to inform planning by assessing intrinsic capacity prevalence, by characterising the target group, and by validating the general approach—testing hypotheses that DIC was consistently associated with higher risks of incident dependence and death. Methods and findings We conducted population-based cohort studies (baseline, 2003–2007) in urban sites in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela, and rural and urban sites in Peru, Mexico, India, and China. Door-knocking identified eligible participants, aged 65 years and over and normally resident in each geographically defined catchment area. Sociodemographic, behaviour and lifestyle, health, and healthcare utilisation and cost questionnaires, and physical assessments were administered to all participants, with incident dependence and mortality ascertained 3 to 5 years later (2008–2010). In 12 sites in 8 countries, 17,031 participants were surveyed at baseline. Overall mean age was 74.2 years, range of means by site 71.3–76.3 years; 62.4% were female, range 53.4%–67.3%. At baseline, only 30% retained full capacity across all domains. The proportion retaining capacity fell sharply with increasing age, and declines affecting multiple domains were more common. Poverty, morbidity (particularly dementia, depression, and stroke), and disability were concentrated among those with DIC, although only 10% were frail, and a further 9% had needs for care. Hypertension and lifestyle risk factors for chronic disease, and healthcare utilisation and costs, were more evenly distributed in the population. In total, 15,901 participants were included in the mortality cohort (2,602 deaths/53,911 person-years of follow-up), and 12,939 participants in the dependence cohort (1,896 incident cases/38,320 person-years). One or more DICs strongly and independently predicted incident dependence (pooled adjusted subhazard ratio 1.91, 95% CI 1.69–2.17) and death (pooled adjusted hazard ratio 1.66, 95% CI 1.49–1.85). Relative risks were higher for those who were frail, but were also substantially elevated for the much larger sub-groups yet to become frail. Mortality was mainly concentrated in the frail and dependent sub-groups. The main limitations were potential for DIC exposure misclassification and attrition bias. Conclusions In this study we observed a high prevalence of DICs, particularly in older age groups. Those affected had substantially increased risks of dependence and death. Most needs for care arose in those with DIC yet to become frail. Our findings provide some support for the strategy of optimising intrinsic capacity in pursuit of healthy ageing. Implementation at scale requires community-based screening and assessment, and a stepped-care intervention approach, with redefined roles for community healthcare workers and efforts to engage, train, and support them in these tasks. ICOPE might be usefully integrated into community programmes for detecting and case managing chronic diseases including hypertension and diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1003097
JournalPLoS medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


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