Most of the attention of policy makers, program planners, clinicians, and researchers in the area of physical health disparities among African American older adults has been traditionally focused on cardiometabolic disease and cancer. Among a long list of chronic medical conditions, chronic respiratory conditions (CRCs), such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema, have received less attention. Purpose.
This study investigated whether CRCs contribute to physical and mental health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of African American older adults who live in economically disadvantaged urban areas, and whether these effects are due to demographic factors, socioeconomic status (SES), health behaviors, and comorbid medical and mental conditions. Methods.
This community-based study recruited 617 African American older adults (age ≥ 65 years) from Service Planning Areas (SPA) 6, an economically disadvantaged area in South Los Angeles. Structured face-to-face interviews were used to collect data on demographic factors (age and gender), SES (educational attainment and financial difficulty), living arrangements, marital status, health behaviors (cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking), health (CRC, number of comorbid medical conditions, depressive symptoms, and pain intensity), and physical and mental HRQoL (Physical and Mental Component Summary Scores; PCS and MCS; SF-12). Linear regressions were used to analyze the data. Results.
The presence of CRCs was associated with lower PCS and MCS in bivariate analysis. The association between CRCs and PCS remained significant above and beyond all confounders. However, the association between CRCs and MCS disappeared after controlling for confounders. Conclusion.
For African American older adults living in economically disadvantaged urban areas, CRCs contribute to poor physical HRQoL. Evaluation and treatment of CRCs in African American older adults may be a strategy for reduction of disparities in HRQoL in this population. As smoking is the major modifiable risk factor for CRCs, there is a need to increase accessibility of smoking cessation programs in economically disadvantaged urban areas. More research is needed on the types, management, and prognosis of CRCs such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema in African American older adults who reside in low-income and resource limited urban areas.