Are there still sex differences in the functioning of the elderly?




Elderly. ICF. Frailty. Sex.


Introduction: Sex is one of the demographic characteristics that better differentiates the independence of the elderly, despite this distinction not being consensual. Objective: To know the differences in functioning associated with sex in elderly people aged ≥ 65 years according to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF). Methods: This was an analytical and cross-sectional observational study with a sample of 451 subjects. The instruments were a sociodemographic questionnaire identical to a ICF checklist and the Biopsychosocial Assessment Method. The student t, Mann-Whitney, chi-square, and Spearman correlation tests were used considering p < 0.05. Results: The average age was between 79.5 ± 7.5 years with a female prevalence (62.1%). Of the 43 variables studied, sex differences were found in 17 (39.5%). In the personal factors, women showed greater vulnerability in conjugality (p ≤ 0.001), cohabitation (p = 0.037), and economic income (p = 0.002). Nonetheless, they showed healthier behaviors in all health-related habits. As for environmental factors and body functions, greater fragility was once again observed in women: the need for assistive devices (p ≤ 0.001) and urinary incontinence (p = 0.021). In activities/participation, differences were found in mobility, where women experienced more restrictions, whereas men were more dependent on washing/drying clothes in domestic life (p = 0.022). Conclusion: Women are more unprotected in social and economic areas, while men showed more vulnerability in habits related to health. These differences are linked to demographic issues related to longevity, cultural differences, and socialization, and differences regarding activities/participation tend to dilute between sexes.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Ana Paula Fontes, Universidade Nova de Lisboa (UNL), Universidade do Algarve (UAlg)

Universidade Nova de Lisboa (UNL), Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Interdisciplinary Center for Social Sciences, Lisboa, Portugal. Universidade do Algarve (UAlg), Higher School of Health Sciences, Faro, Portugal.



How to Cite

Fontes, A. P. (2021). Are there still sex differences in the functioning of the elderly?. Fisioterapia Em Movimento (Physical Therapy in Movement), 35(1).



Original Article