(HealthDay News) — Ageism predicts significantly worse health outcomes, according to a review published online Jan. 15 in PLOS ONE.

E-Shien Chang, from Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues conducted a systematic review to examine how ageism occurring at the structural level and individual level impacts the health of older persons. A total of 13,691 papers were extracted for screening, 638 were fully reviewed, and 422 studies were included in the analyses.

The researchers found that in 95.5 percent of the studies and 74.0 percent of all 1,159 ageism-health associations examined, ageism led to significantly worse health outcomes. Ageism effects were reported in all 45 countries, 11 health domains, and 25 years studied; over time, the prevalence of significant findings increased.

Compared with more-developed countries, less-developed countries had a greater prevalence of significant ageism-health findings. Adverse health effects of ageism were particularly likely among older persons who were less educated. Ageism was observed across age, sex, and race/ethnicity of the persons perpetrating ageism.

“In conclusion, the current findings underscore ageism as a social determinant of health,” the authors write. “Initiatives to improve population health would benefit from taking ageism into account.”

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