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Comparison of self-rated and objective successful ageing in an international cohort



Understanding predictors of successful ageing is essential to policy development promoting quality-of-life of an ageing population. Initial models precluded successful ageing in the presence of chronic disease/functional disability; however, this is discrepant with self-reported successful ageing. Indicators of social, psychological and physical health in 1,735 people aged 65–74, living in Canada, Columbia, Brazil or Albania, were analysed in the International Mobility in Ageing Study. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed to estimate the change in self-rated successful ageing in relation to physical health, depression, social connectedness, resilience and site, while controlling for age, gender and income sufficiency. Sixty-five per cent of participants self-rated as ageing successfully; however, this was significantly different across sites (p < 0.0005, range 17–85%) and gender (p = 0.019). Using objective measures, 6 per cent were classified as ‘successful’, with significant variability amongst sites (p < 0.0005, range 0–12%). Subjective successful ageing was associated with fewer (not absence of) chronic diseases, absence of depression and less dysfunction in activities of daily living, but not with objective measures of physical dysfunction. Social connectedness and resilience also aligned with self-rated successful ageing. Traditional definitions of objective successful ageing are likely too restrictive, and thus, do not approximate self-rated successful ageing. International differences suggest that site could be a surrogate for variables other than physical/mental health and social engagement.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Susan P. Phillips, Queen's University Family Medicine, 220 Bagot Street, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 5E9 E-mail:


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