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 involves mapping the deeper drivers of deteriorating later-life quality to identify ways of reversing the current trend of extra-life years lived with disabilities.

We will particularly focus on the impact of long-term conditions and multiple conditions.


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.


Associated publications

  • Bennett et al (2021) – Healthy ageing for all? Comparisons of socioeconomic inequalities in health expectancies over two decades in the Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies I and II (International Journal of Epidemiology) DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyaa271
  • Welsh et al (2021) – Trends in life expectancy and healthy life years at birth and age 65 in the UK, 2008–2016, and other countries of the EU28: An observational cross-sectional study (The Lancet Regional Health – Europe) DOI: 10.1016/j.lanepe.2020.100023
  • Bennett et al (2021) – The contribution of multiple long-term conditions to widening inequalities in disability-free life expectancy over two decades: Longitudinal analysis of two cohorts using the Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies (EClinicalMedicine) DOI: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.101041


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