Metropolitan versus nonmetropolitan differences in functional status and self-care practice: Findings from a national sample of community-dwelling older adults

Donna J. Rabiner, Thomas R. Konrad, Gordon H. DeFriese, Jean Kincade, Shulamit L. Bernard, Alison Woomert, Thomas Arcury, Marcia G. Ory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to use a recent national probability survey of the noninstitutionalized older adult population to compare the functional status and self-care practices of older adults residing in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan communities and to identify differences associated with residential location. The survey used in this study was the National Survey of Self-care and Aging (NSSCA). A cross-sectional design was employed using weighted bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses to examine the relationship between metropolitan and nonmetropolitan residential location and self-reported ability to perform basic, mobility, and instrumental activities of daily living (ADLs), as well as to assess the degree to which the levels and types of functional limitations affect metropolitan versus nonmetropolitan older adults' performance of self-care activities. The bivariate logistic analyses pointed to modest, often insignificant metropolitan versus nonmetropolitan differences in the ability to perform functional tasks. However, larger positive effects of nonmetropolitan residence were generally observed once other factors likely to account for some of these differences were taken into account. Older adults from nonmetropolitan areas were more likely to report being able to perform functional activities but also were more likely to report performing self-care activities both in the presence and absence of disability. This study, therefore, concluded that nonmetropolitan older adults may discount the significance of declining functional status, thus normalizing the trajectory of aging in a different way than do their metropolitan counterparts. If this process occurs, it may affect how nonmetropolitan persons use primary health care and/or long-term care services, challenging the economists' concept of demand, the clinicians' concept of need, and the policy analysts' concept of equity. Additional work is required to assess whether such a normalization process actually occurs and, if so, to explore its distribution, causes, correlates, and consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-28
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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