Introduction Disability-free life expectancy (DFLE) is an average number of years that a person can expect to live in “full health.” The Japanese government asked all 47 prefectures to reflect DFLE in their health policies. To meet this political demand, we estimated DFLE of all the prefectures in Japan by the data of the Long-Term Care Insurance System implemented in 2000 and examined socio-demographic and health factors which might influence DFLE.
Methods We assumed those who were under the conditions of Need for Long-Term Care (category 2 or more) as “disabled.” DFLE at age 65 (DFLE-65) was estimated by Sullivan's method which used the proportion of the stationary population of the non-disabled to the number of survivals from life table by age and sex. For evaluating factors potentially influencing DFLE-65, we conducted an ecological study of all 47 prefectures in Japan with several national statistics.
Results DFLE-65 in Japan in 2005 were 16.6, 20.2, and 18.4 years for male, female, and overall, respectively. In 2009, such figures were 17.1, 20.5, and 18.8 years, respectively. DFLE-65 in 2009 was strongly correlated with several causes of death, number of snowy days, and several healthy habits. The difference of DFLE-65 from 2005 to 2009 was strongly correlated with healthy dietary habits, exercise, income per capita, and snowy or rainy days.
Conclusion In Japan, DFLE-65 is still in an upward phase and implementation of healthy dietary habits and exercise might prolong the DFLE.
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