Trends in the disability-free life expectancy in Switzerland over a 10-year period: an analysis of survey-based data
INTRODUCTION: Increasing life expectancy raises concerns whether the years gained will be spent free of disability. Lately, trends across countries have been heterogeneous. This work examined recent trends in disability-free life expectancy and life expectancy with mild or severe disability in Switzerland.
METHODS: Life expectancy was estimated using national life tables, by sex and 5-year age groups. Based on Sullivan’s method, disability-free life expectancy and life expectancy with disability were computed using information from the Swiss Health Survey on age- and sex-specific prevalence of mild and severe disability. Life expectancy, disability-free life expectancy and life expectancy with disability were estimated in 2007, 2012, and 2017, at 65 and 80 years of age, for both sexes.
RESULTS: Between 2007 and 2017, disability-free life expectancy at 65 and 80 years of age increased by 2.1 and 1.4 years, respectively, in men and by 1.5 and 1.1 years, respectively, in women. Meanwhile, life expectancy with mild disability decreased by 6 months in both sexes at age 65 and in men at age 80, but only 1 month in women at age 80. Life expectancy with severe disability also decreased at both ages, by approximately 6 months in women but only 2 to 3 months in men. The proportion of disability-free life expectancy increased significantly in both sexes and ages. For example, disability-free life expectancy / life expectancy at age 65 increased from 67% (95% confidence interval [CI] 66‒69) to 73% (95% CI 71‒74) in women and from 77% (95% CI 75‒79) to 82% (95% CI 81‒84) in men.
CONCLUSION: From 2007 to 2017, disability-free life expectancy at age 65 and 80 increased in Swiss women and men. These gains outweighed those in life expectancy, reflecting some compression of morbidity.
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