Disparate effects of socioeconomic status on physical function and emotional well-being in older adults

D. A. Rios, D. R. Abdulah, J. Y. Wei, J. M. Hausdorff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We tested the hypothesis that among community living older adults with relatively low and high socioeconomic status (SES), low SES is associated with both poorer emotional well-being and physical function. Ambulatory, community living older men and women (70-89 years of age) were recruited from outpatient geriatric assessment clinics in relatively high socioeconomic areas of greater Boston (High SES, N=47), and from an urban senior center in the inner city (Low SES, N=66). We assessed health status, mental health, upper and lower extremity strength and physical function. We found that health status was not significantly different in the two groups. Quadriceps strength (Low SES: 199±57 N; High SES: 190±56 N; p=0.531) and Up and Go times (Low SES: 14.3±3.1 sec; High SES: 16.7±9.5 sec; p=0.068) were not significantly different in the two groups, while grip strength was slightly higher in the Low SES group (Low SES: 22.8±6.45 kg; High SES: 20.07±7.55 kg; p=0.049). In contrast, subjects with Low SES tended to have an increased tendency towards depression. Scores on the Geriatric Depression Scale were 3.8±3.0 in Low SES, and 1.8±2.8 in High SES (p<0.001). We conclude that while health status and physical function were not worse in subjects with low SES, emotional well-being was markedly less compared to seniors with high SES. SES may have disparate effects on physical function and mental health, perhaps due to different compensatory mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-37
Number of pages8
JournalAging clinical and experimental research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2001
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
National Institute on AgingR29AG014100


    • Aging
    • Emotional well-being
    • Physical function
    • Socioeconomic status


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