Objective: To examine whether physical activity is independently associated with direct health care costs in community-dwelling older adults with multiple chronic conditions.
Design: Cross-sectional analysis.
Setting: Research laboratory.
Participants: Two hundred and nine community-dwelling men and women volunteers aged 65 years and older with chronic conditions.
Main Outcome Measures: Primary dependent variable was direct health care costs incurred in the previous three months. Participants completed the Health Resource Utilization (HRU) questionnaire. To estimate HRU, direct costs in the previous three months were calculated using the third party payer perspective of the British Columbia Ministry of Health, deemed representative of the Canadian health care system costs. For medications, we used the Retail Pharmacy Dispensed prescription cost tables. 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, gender, 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 PASIPD score resulted in an R-square 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 health care costs in older adults with chronic conditions.