General Health in the Elderly and Younger Adults of Rural areas in Fars Province, Iran

Document Type : Original article


1 Department of Biostatistics, Infertility Research Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

2 Community Based Psychiatric Care Research Center, Department of Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

3 Department of Biostatistics, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

4 Family Health Unit, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran


Background: There are critical gaps in assessment and research on health among the elderly living in rural communities. The state of aging and health in rural areas provides a snapshot of our older adults’s need to necessary public health measures .The aim of this study was to determine the self-rated general health of adults residing in rural areas and compare the general health of the elderly with younger adults.Methods: In this population based study using multistage random sampling, 2259 adults aged (≥15 years old) were selected from rural areas of Shiraz, southern Iran. The participants were divided into three age groups: young adults (15-39 years old n=1574), middle aged adults (40-59 years old, n=530), and the elderly (≥60 years of age, n-155).  Data were gathered using a translated version of the general health questionnaire (GHQ-28) and analyzed using Chi-square, one-way ANOVA, Kruskal-Wallis tests and ANCOVA analysis.  SPSS software, version 16, was used for analysis.Results:  34.8%, 31.6%, 52.3% and 7.7% of the elderly had a probable mental disorder  in the somatization, anxiety, social dysfunction and depression categories, respectively. Moreover, 9.7, 7.1, 3.9 and 4.5% of the elderly had a  severe mental disorder  in the four mentioned subscales, respectively. Compared with younger adults, the elderly showed a significantly higher disorder in all subscales except for anxiety.Conclusion: Our findings showed that chronic disease had a great effect on general health. Screening programs and prevention of chronic disease by the newly established family physician in rural districts can improve the overall community health.