Project 1: Chronic conditions and later-life disability

Full title: The contribution of single and multiple chronic conditions to the deteriorating time trends in later-life disability

This project will explore whether the extra years of life we can expect as an ageing society can be good quality, rather than additional years lived with disability and poor health.

This requires mapping the deeper drivers of deteriorating later-life quality, particularly the impact of long-term conditions and multiple conditions, to identify means of reversing the current trend of extra-life years lived with disabilities.


We aim to answer the following questions:

  • Are the extra years lived with disability and dependency due to:
    • increased incidence of disability/dependency?
    • reduced ability to return to independence?
    • longer survival with disability/dependency?
  • Are the extra years with disability due to individual long-term conditions becoming more prevalent, or more disabling, or because multiple concurrent conditions (multiple conditions) have increased?

How do the UK trends in disability-free life expectancy differ from other countries? Specifically, has the plateauing of life expectancy at older ages observed in the UK been evident elsewhere in Europe?

Policy relevance

Results from this project will contribute to the evidence base for public health to prevent and postpone the onset of disability and dependency, and could inform the design of intervention studies.

A key aspect of the published report from this project will be finding whether reducing recovery has increased years spent with mild disability and low-level dependency, as opposed to increased dependency and disability.

This work will be useful to the PHE Healthy Ageing Strategy, as well as business, in terms of promoting exercise, strength training and relevant assistive technology aimed at helping older people regain independence.

Delivery timeline

1 March 2019 to 1 March 2020


Newcastle University logo

The University of Manchester logo