Compression of morbidity
The compression of morbidity in public health is a hypothesis put forth by James Fries, professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. The hypothesis was confirmed by a 1998 study of 1700 University of Pennsylvania alumni over a period of 20 years.
Fries' hypothesis is that the burden of lifetime illness may be compressed into a shorter period before the time of death, if the age of onset of the first chronic infirmity can be postponed. This hypothesis contrasts to the view that as the age of countries' populations tends to increase over time, they will become increasingly infirm and consume an ever-larger proportion of the national budget in healthcare costs.
In order to confirm this hypothesis, the evidence must show that it is possible to delay the onset of infirmity, and that corresponding increases in longevity will be modest.
Fries concludes that if the hypothesis is confirmed, healthcare costs and patient health overall will be improved.
- Fries, James F. (1980). "Aging, Natural Death, and the Compression of Morbidity". New England Journal of Medicine 303 (3): 130–5. doi:10.1056/NEJM198007173030304. PMID 7383070.
- Vita, Anthony J.; Terry, Richard B.; Hubert, Helen B.; Fries, James F. (1998). "Aging, Health Risks, and Cumulative Disability". New England Journal of Medicine 338 (15): 1035–41. doi:10.1056/NEJM199804093381506. PMID 9535669.
- Swartz, Aimee (2008). "James Fries: Healthy Aging Pioneer". American Journal of Public Health 98 (7): 1163–6. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2008.135731. PMC 2424092. PMID 18511711.
- "The compression of morbidity was prophetic in the sense that Jim looked at the reduction of morbidity and disability at a time when most gerontologists and epidemiologists thought we would see a pandemic of disability." —Richard Suzman, quoted in Swartz 2008