Journal Article

Chronic diseases in elderly men: underreporting and underdiagnosis

Morten Frost, Kristian Wraae, Claire Gudex, Torben Nielsen, Kim Brixen, Claus Hagen and Marianne Andersen

in Age and Ageing

Published on behalf of British Geriatrics Society

Volume 41, issue 2, pages 177-183
Published in print March 2012 | ISSN: 0002-0729
Published online December 2011 | e-ISSN: 1468-2834 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afr153
Chronic diseases in elderly men: underreporting and underdiagnosis

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Objective: prevalence estimates for chronic diseases and associated risk factors are needed for priority setting and disease prevention strategies. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to estimate the self-reported and clinical prevalence of common chronic disorders in elderly men.

Study design and setting: a questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 4,975 men aged 60–74 years. An age-stratified randomised sample (= 1,845) of those with complete questionnaires was invited to participate in a telephone interview (= 864), followed by physical examination (= 600). Self-reported data on risk factors and disease prevalence were compared with data from hospital medical records.

Results: physical inactivity, smoking and excessive alcohol intake were reported by 27, 22 and 17% of the study population, respectively. Except for diabetes, all the chronic diseases investigated, including hypertension, musculoskeletal and respiratory diseases were underreported by study participants. Erectile dysfunction and hypogonadism were substantially underreported in the study population even though these diseases were found to affect 48 and 21% of the participants, respectively.

Conclusions: the study showed a high prevalence of detrimental life style factors including smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and physical inactivity in elderly Danish men. Except for diabetes and respiratory disease, chronic diseases were underreported and in particular erectile dysfunction and osteoporosis were underdiagnosed in the study population, underlining the importance of awareness of chronic diseases among both the general population and physicians.

Keywords: chronic disease; underreporting; underdiagnosis; men; population-based; elderly

Journal Article.  3410 words. 

Subjects: Geriatric Medicine

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