BioScience Trends. 2023;17(2):177-182. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2022.01515)

A cross-sectional study on the need for and utilization of assistive walking devices by people age 55 and older in Shanghai

Cheng WD, Cao YF, Wang H, Peng X, Xie CY, Wang CY, Chen D, Wan LS, Xue J, Zhang YW, Xin HY, Zhuang W, Ding HS


We conducted a study to analyze the unmet needs of and risk factors for use of assistive walking devices by the elderly based on sample survey data from Shanghai, China from July to October 2019. Among a total sample size of 11,193 people age 55 and older, 1,947 people (17.39%) needed assistive walking devices, 829 (42.58%) of whom needed but did not use those devices. Multivariate analysis indicated that residence, living alone or cohabitating, indoor handrails, the number of diseases, and IADL were factors influencing the unmet need for assistive walking devices (p < 0.05, respectively). People who lived in community health centers (p = 0.0104, OR = 1.956, 95% CI: 1.171-3.267) and those who lived only with their spouse (p = 0.0002, OR = 2.901, 95% CI: 1.641-5.126) were more likely to have an unmet need for assistive walking devices. People without indoor handrails (p = 0.0481, OR = 0.718, 95% CI: 0.517-0.997), those with 3 or more diseases (p = 0.0008, OR = 0.577, 95% CI: 0.418-0.796), and those with severely impaired IADL (p = 0.0002, OR = 0.139, 95% CI: 0.05-0.386) were less likely to have an unmet need for assistive walking devices. Self-perceived needs of the elderly, the diversity and performance of assistive devices, and the accessibility and affordability of assistive walking devices may lead to unmet needs.

KEYWORDS: elderly, assistive walking devices, need, utilization, Shanghai

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