• disability;
  • cardiovascular disease;
  • arthritis;
  • osteoporosis;
  • epidemiology;
  • aging

OBJECTIVES: Describe the methodology and preliminary results of the Progetto Veneto Anziani (PRO.V.A.) Study, an observational study of the Italian population aged 65 and older

DESIGN: Cross-sectional cohort observation.

SETTING: Northern Italy.

PARTICIPANTS: Italians aged 65 and older, living in both the community and nursing homes.

MEASUREMENTS: At baseline, participants were interviewed at their homes and subsequently examined by nurses and physicians at the two study clinics using an extensive battery of clinical, instrumental, biochemical, and physical performance tests. Hand, knee, hip, and chest x-rays and bone densitometry were performed in 92% of the participants, and 99% of the participants consented to blood drawing and deoxyribonucleic acid analyses. The physician who performed the physical examination determined disease presence based on several components of the interview and examination. A further, comprehensive determination was performed with standardized algorithms using all the information collected on each participant, including hospital records surveillance, standardized x-ray readings, and blood assays. In one of the study sites, a brain magnetic resonance imaging was performed in a subsample of the participants (820 persons).

RESULTS: Overall response rate to the baseline clinic visit was 77% for men and 64% for women. Co-presence of at least one cardiovascular disease (CVD) and at least one osteoarticular disease (OAD) was identified in 10%, 22%, and 29% of men and 9%, 24%, and 40% of women aged 65 to 74, 75 to 84, and 85 and older, respectively. Overall, the mean number of coexisting chronic conditions was 1.8 for men and 2.4 for women.

CONCLUSIONS: The PRO.V.A. study has the potential to provide an original contribution to clarify the mechanisms whereby diseases cause disability in older men and women; the particular focus on CVD and OADs will make it possible to comprehensively evaluate the development of disability as it relates to these two important conditions.