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Research Letter
March 6, 2013

Predicting 10-Year Mortality for Older Adults

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Jody W. Zylke, MD, Senior Editor.

Author Affiliations: Divisions of Endocrinology (Dr Cruz) and Geriatrics (Drs Covinsky, Widera, and Lee and Ms Stijacic-Cenzer), University of California, San Francisco (sei.lee@ucsf.edu).

JAMA. 2013;309(9):874-876. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.1184

To The Editor: Preventive interventions, such as cancer screening, expose patients to immediate risks with delayed benefits, suggesting that risks outweigh benefits in patients with limited life expectancy. Recent guidelines recommend considering patients' life expectancy when deciding whether to pursue preventive interventions with long lag times to benefit (≥ 7 years) such as colorectal cancer screening and intensive glycemic control for diabetes.1,2 However, most mortality indices have focused on short-term risk (≤ 5 years).3,4 We examined whether our previously developed 4-year mortality index5 accurately predicted 10-year mortality.

Like our previous analysis, this analysis uses the 1998 wave of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a nationally representative cohort of community-dwelling US adults older than 50 years. The HRS cohort was divided geographically into development (East, Central, and West; n = 11 701) and validation (South; n = 8009) cohorts. Self-report data were collected primarily through telephone interviews (response rate 81%).