PolSenior 2 is the largest study in Poland dedicated to senior citizens.
Six thousand Poles aged 60-106 were examined as part of the completed research conducted under the agenda of the PolSenior 2 project entitled Research on specific areas of the aging adults’ health condition, including health-related quality of life.
At the turn of November and December 2020 during nationwide online conference, the preliminary results of the research were presented.
PolSenior 2 is nationwide survey of the overall health condition of the older Poles, their socio-economic situation and quality of life, carried out under the National Health Programme for 2016-2020 funded by the Ministry of Health.
The field research lasted from September 2018 to December 2019. Not only did it allow for the assessment of the general health condition of the older Poles, along with their socio-economic situation, but – thanks to the comparison with the results of the PolSenior 1, a study conducted 10 years earlier – it identified the main trends and phenomena in the heathcare and socio-economic fields in Poland. The obtained results will enable a more precise definition of the needs of not only current but also future senior citizens, as well as the adjustment of systemic activities of public institutions to the inevitable social as demographic changes for the coming years.
The Medical University of Gdańsk is the project’s main coordinator, whereas Prof. Tomasz Zdrojewski is the head of the research team. The team consisted of both experienced research workers affiliated with the MUG, including geriatrics specialists, as well as the best experts in the field of geriatrics and gerontology from other research centres in Poland, most of whom were involved in the implementation of the PolSenior 1 project, completed in 2012.
Six thousand Poles, aged 60 and more, were subjected to the study, selected on the basis of their PESEL number by the Ministry of Digital Affairs and grouped in seven equal age groups (layers): 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-84 , 85-89 and 90+ years) with an equal number of women and men (the number of randomly selected respondents in a given voivodship will be proportional to the total number of inhabitants from 60 in a given voivodeship) and the size of the respondents’ place of residence (village, town 500 thousand).
Methodology of the study
Several research tools were used in the PolSenior2 study: questionnaires (study surveys), tests and scales included in the Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA) as well as anthropometric and blood pressure measurements, followed by blood and urine laboratory tests. The survey study consisted of questionnaires on medical and socio-economic issues, and were completed during a direct interview at the respondent’s home during two visits. During the third visit, biological material was collected.
It concerned a broadly understood health condition of the respondents and included questions with regard to the past and diagnosed diseases and the severity of their symptoms, as well as knowledge about the principles of prevention and treatment of certain diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases. The scope of the questions covered to following issues: cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, respiratory system, nervous system, mental diseases, digestive system, genitourinary system, endocrine system, neoplastic diseases, sense organs diseases, the occurrence of falls and injuries as well as the occurrence of pain, with particular emphasis on chronic pain, its location and intensity assessed using the VAS scale. The list of medications and dietary supplements taken allowed for the analysis of the occurrence of polypharmacy and to follow the medical recommendations regarding pharmacotherapy. Thanks to the use of standardised tools (CGA scales and tests), the functional state and physical fitness of the respondents, their cognitive functions, possible mood and nutritional disorders, and the frequency of the weakness syndrome were assessed.
The respondents’ family situation, households’ structure, meeting the needs of the respondents in terms of being provided with care and nursing by their families (family’s caregiving capacity), social activity of senior citizens, the most common problems they face and social support they receive, as well as the use of social welfare services, were examined. The topic of violence against seniors, including the economic kind, was also discussed. The material situation of the respondents, sources of their income and possibilities of managing them, as well as housing situation were verified. The level of satisfaction with medical care and its availability, as well as the need for healthcare and nursing services, were assessed. A separate part was devoted to the activity of seniors, i.e. the ways of spending free time, recreational, tourist and sports activities. The quality of life questionnaire was also conducted.
As part of the project, blood and urine laboratory tests were conducted. The scope of the research was wide (35 different parameters) and included glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin (HBA1c) levels, evaluation of liver function, lipid disorders, calcium and phosphate metabolism, kidney function, anaemia, inflammatory processes and micro-inflammation. A number of additional measurements were also taken, including blood pressure and heart rate measurements (6 measurements in total), handshake strength and anthropometric measurements (waist, calf and arm circumference). Based on the bioimpedance method and the use of a specialised scale, we determined the body composition of the subjects, including muscle mass, the loss of which is one of the main causes of disability and the growing need for care.