Physical Function in Midlife and Older Adults From an African American Church-Based Health Screening

Published:February 24, 2021DOI:


      Limitations in physical function are predictive of adverse health outcomes, and screening has been recommended in clinical settings for older adults. Rarely assessed in community-based settings, physical function could provide insight for tailoring health-related community-based programs and raise awareness about this important aspect of health. This cross-sectional study seeks to demonstrate the feasibility of integrating physical function assessments into health screenings in African American churches in Chicago, Illinois, through a large health partnership and to determine the prevalence and correlates of physical function limitations among midlife (aged 40–59 years) and late-life (aged ≥60 years) participants.


      Screenings were held in 7 churches in Spring 2018. Physical function was assessed using the Short Physical Performance Battery. Demographics, medical history, health status, and health behaviors were assessed. Age-stratified logistic regression identified independent associations with physical function limitations (Score ≤9) among midlife and late-life participants (data were analyzed in 2018–2019).


      Among 731 participants (median age=57 [IQR=51−65] years, 58% women, 97% African American), 25% of midlife and 56% of late-life participants had physical function limitations. For midlife participants, fair/poor health (OR=1.83, 95% CI=1.10, 3.05), stroke/neurologic conditions (OR=2.42, 95% CI=1.07, 5.46), and arthritis (OR=2.25, 95% CI=1.32, 3.81) were associated with higher odds of limitations. Fair/poor health (OR=1.97, 95% CI=1.11, 3.50) and stroke/neurologic conditions (OR=7.85, 95% CI=2.22, 27.74) were related to limitations among late-life participants.


      Physical function screening was successfully implemented into this large-scale church-based health screening program. Physical function limitations were prevalent, particularly at midlife; this information will be used to guide future programs.
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