Prevalence of chronic diseases in older Italians: Comparing self-reported and clinical diagnoses

Luigi Amaducci, Marzia Baldereschi, Antonio Di Carlo, Stefania Maggi, Guglielmo Scarlato, Livia Candelise, Elio Scarpini, Francesco Grigoletto, Nadia Minicuci, Giuseppina Volonnino, Mauro Zucchetto, Marta Bressan, Leontino Battistin, Giuliano Enzi, Giovanni Bortolan, Carlo Loeb, Carlo Gandolfo, Nicola Canal, Massimo Franceschi, Augusto GhettiRossano Vergassoia, Domenico Inzitari, Salvatore Bonaiuto, Franco Rengo, Antonio Capurso, Paolo Livrea, Luciano Motta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. The Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging (ILSA) evaluates the rates of diabetes, cardiovascular and neurological disorders in a random sample of 5632 Italians aged 65-84 years. Methods. The ILSA has two components: a first screening phase administered to all participants, that includes a personal interview, physician examination, laboratory and diagnostic tests, and a second phase, consisting of the clinical confirmation of suspected cases by a specialist. Results. Prevalence rates were significantly higher among men for myocardial infarction (10.7% versus 4.8%), cardiac arrhythmia (25.1% versus 20.3%) and peripheral artery disease (8.1% versus 5.2%), and among women for hypertension (67.3% versus 59.4%), heart failure (7.3% versus 5.4%) and dementia (7.2% versus 5.3%). No gender difference was found for stroke, angina, diabetes, Parkinsonism and distal symmetric neuropathy. Unreported diagnoses accounted for 85% of cases of distal symmetric neuropathy, for more than half the cases of cardiac failure, for 40% of cases of angina, and for more than one-third of cases of arrhythmia, myocardial infarction, peripheral artery disease, hypertension, Parkinsonism. Data from the phase 1 interview showed substantial overreporting for myocardial infarction, peripheral artery disease, diabetes, and stroke. Conclusions. The authors conclude that self-reported information would lead to inaccurate estimates of prevalence rates suggesting the need for including the clinical ascertainment in any population-based epidemiological study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)995-1002
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Aging
  • Chronic diseases
  • Data collection
  • Epidemiological methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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