MEASURING THE ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING: COMPARISONS ACROSS NATIONAL SURVEYS 1990 Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation MEASURING THE ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING: Comparisons Across National Surveys

Joshua Wiener, Raymond Hanley, Robert Clark, Joan Van Nostrand
Journal of Gerontology: SOCIAL SCIENCES   unpublished
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) is the principal advisor to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on policy development issues, and is responsible for major activities in the areas of legislative and budget development, strategic planning, policy research and evaluation, and economic analysis. ASPE develops or reviews issues from the viewpoint of the Secretary, providing a perspective that is broader in scope than the
more » ... pe than the specific focus of the various operating agencies. ASPE also works closely with the HHS operating divisions. It assists these agencies in developing policies, and planning policy research, evaluation and data collection within broad HHS and administration initiatives. ASPE often serves a coordinating role for crosscutting policy and administrative activities. ASPE plans and conducts evaluations and research-both in-house and through support of projects by external researchers-of current and proposed programs and topics of particular interest to the Secretary, the Administration and the Congress. Office of Disability, Aging and Long-Term Care Policy The Office of Disability, Aging and Long-Term Care Policy (DALTCP), within ASPE, is responsible for the development, coordination, analysis, research and evaluation of HHS policies and programs which support the independence, health and long-term care of persons with disabilities-children, working aging adults, and older persons. DALTCP is also responsible for policy coordination and research to promote the economic and social well-being of the elderly. In particular, DALTCP addresses policies concerning: nursing home and community-based services, informal caregiving, the integration of acute and long-term care, Medicare post-acute services and home care, managed care for people with disabilities, long-term rehabilitation services, children's disability, and linkages between employment and health policies. These activities are carried out through policy planning, policy and program analysis, regulatory reviews, formulation of legislative proposals, policy research, evaluation and data planning. The "activities of daily living," or ADLs, are the basic tasks of everyday life, such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and transferring. Reported estimates of the size of the elderly population with ADL disabilities differ substantially across national surveys. Differences in which ADL items are being measured and in what constitutes a disability account for much of the variation. Other likely explanations are differences in sample design, sample size, survey methodology, and age structure of the population to which the sample refers. When essentially equivalent ADL measures are compared, estimates for the community-based population vary by up to 3.1 percentage points; and for the institutionalized population, with the exception of toileting, by no more than 3.2 percentage points. As small as these differences are in absolute terms, they can be large in percent differences across surveys. For example, the National Medical Expenditure Survey estimates that there are 60 percent more elderly people with ADL problems than does the Supplement on Aging.