a1 Multicampus Program in Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA
a2 School of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
a3 Office of Population Research, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
a4 Center for Population and Health, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA
Data from a national representative sample of 1023 elderly and near-elderly Taiwanese were used to explore whether allostatic load is associated with health outcomes and mediates the association between socioeconomic status and health in a non-Western population. The information collected included: demographic characteristics; allostatic load scores; socioeconomic status, measured by education and income; health behaviours; health-related variables, including self-rated health, basic activities of daily living difficulties, instrumental activities of daily living difficulties, and physical activity difficulties. The adjusted prevalent odds ratios of higher allostatic load level were 1·25 (95% CI: 1·00, 1·56) for reporting one level worse in self-rated health and 1·43 (95% CI: 1·14, 1·82) for reporting one more physical activity difficulty. There were significant associations of lower education or less income with worse self-rated health and more difficulties with physical functioning. The associations between education, income and health status are not mediated by the conventional ten-point measure of allostatic load in older Taiwanese adults.