Background: Although knee pain is common in older persons and can cause ambulatory limitation, its impact on self-reliance has rarely been examined in Japan, particularly in a community setting. The aim of this 3-year cohort study was to investigate the association of knee pain with dependence in activities of daily living (ADL) and mortality in community-dwelling older Japanese adults. Methods: In 2005, presence of knee pain was assessed by a home visit survey of 1391 older adults aged 65 years or older (participation proportion = 97.3%). A total of 1265 participants who were ADL-independent at baseline were followed for 3 years, and information on outcomes, namely death and dependence in ADL, was collected. Results: Participants who always had knee pain were more likely to become dependent in ADL than those who reported no knee pain (multivariate-adjusted OR, 1.98; 95% CI, 1.03-3.83); however, always having knee pain was not associated with mortality or a composite outcome of ADL dependence and death. Further analyses of each component of ADL dependence revealed that knee pain was associated with a need for assistance at home (long-term care eligibility, bathing, dressing, and transferring), but not with institutionalization. Conclusions: The participants were highly representative of the target population and the rate of follow-up was almost perfect (99.4%). The results suggest that knee pain is associated with future dependence in ADL, particularly a need for assistance at home.
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