Participation restriction has detrimental effects for older adults but it is unknown how participation differs for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) compared to older adults of the same age without respiratory conditions. We compared scores on the Late Life Disability Instrument (LLDI) between people with COPD (study group) and a random sample of older adults (control group).
Participants with COPD (study group) were recruited from two hospitals in Ontario and age- and sex-matched with a ratio of 1:2 with participants from a random sample of community-dwelling older adults who did not report having respiratory conditions (control group). The study group completed the LLDI prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the control group completed the LLDI at the end of the first wave of the pandemic. LLDI frequency and limitation scores were compared between groups using Wilcoxon rank-sum tests.
Forty-six study group participants (mean age 74.2 (SD 5.5) years) and 92 control group participants (mean age 74.4 (SD 5.4) years) were included. Fifty-four percent of the participants were female. The majority of the study group had severe COPD (median forced expiratory volume in one second of 34.5 (25th-75th percentile 27.0–56.0) % predicted). LLDI sores were lower for the study group compared to the control group for both the frequency (median difference -5.4 points, p<0.001) and limitation (median difference -7.6 points, p<0.001) domains. The personal subscale demonstrated the largest magnitude of difference between groups (median difference -13.4 points) and the social subscale demonstrated the smallest magnitude of difference (-5.2 points).
People with COPD had greater participation restrictions than a random sample of older adults without ongoing respiratory conditions. The differences seen in participation between the two groups may have been reduced due to temporal confounding from the COVID-19 pandemic. While participation is relevant to all older adults, our results suggest that it is especially important that it be assessed in those with COPD.