Br J Sports Med 44:1024-1028 doi:10.1136/bjsm.2008.046458
  • Original article

Independent and inverse association of healthcare utilisation with physical activity in older adults with multiple chronic conditions

  1. the Physical Activity and Chronic Conditions Research Team
  1. 1Centre for Hip Health, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  3. 3Rehabilitation Research Laboratory, GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  4. 4Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Teresa Liu-Ambrose, 311-2647 Willow Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V5Z 1M9 Canada; lambrose{at}
  • Accepted 15 April 2008
  • Published Online First 16 May 2008


Objective In this study, whether physical activity is independently associated with direct healthcare costs in community-dwelling older adults with multiple chronic conditions was examined.

Design Cross-sectional analysis

Setting Research laboratory

Participants 299 community-dwelling men and women volunteers aged 65 years and older with chronic conditions.

Intervention None.

Main outcome measures Primary dependent variable was direct healthcare costs incurred in the previous 3 months. Participants completed the Health Resource Utilisation (HRU) questionnaire. To estimate HRU, direct costs in the previous 3 months were calculated using the three-party payer perspective of the British Columbia Ministry of Health, deemed representative of the Canadian healthcare system costs. For medications, the Retail Pharmacy Dispensed prescription cost tables were used. Primary independent variables were (1) self-report current level of physical activity as assessed by the Physical Activity Scale for Individuals with Physical Disabilities (PASIPD) and (2) general balance and mobility as assessed by the National Institute on Aging Balance Scale.

Results The mean number of chronic conditions per participant was six. Current level of physical activity was independently and inversely associated with HRU. Age, sex, number of chronic conditions, global cognitive function, body mass index, and general balance and mobility together accounted for 24.3% of the total variance. Adding the PASIPD score resulted in an R2 change of 3.3% and significantly improved the model. The total variance accounted by the final model was 27.6%.

Conclusions Physical activity promotion may reduce healthcare costs in older adults with chronic conditions.


  • Competing interests None.

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