Step Up Intrinsic Capacity Assessments for Older Adults, Researchers Suggest

March 27, 2023

March 27, 2023

Contact: Ellen Mullally

Intrinsic capacity (IC), the composite of all physical and mental capacities in an individual, has been verified as a strong predictor of health outcomes for older adults. A new study in the March issue of JAMDA concluded that the focus on capacity and disease should be balanced to better promote healthy aging in older adults.

In Measurement of Intrinsic Capacity in Older Adults: A Scoping Review and Quality Assessment, the authors conducted a literature review of 53 studies and found that most looked at IC in depth. Seven used screening tests to identify older adults likely to have experienced some losses in IC. However, most of the studies assessed IC through a more in-depth assessment, addressing several domains; the authors found that sensory capacity often was missed in the studies, and five didn’t assess this at all.

“Older adults often suffer from one or more health conditions that may be controlled very well to have little impact on their abilities of daily living. Hence the research that focuses on the IC and functional ability of older adults are more meaningful,” the authors noted. IC can be used to identify the level of capacities among older adults as well as provide integrated care to reverse or slow declines in capacities. 

“Although diseases/deficits remain the current focus of health services for older adults, evidence suggests that focusing on IC of older adults is more effective than prioritizing health management for chronic diseases,” the authors said. “This suggests that older adults’ capacity may be an appropriate target and entry point for health interventions.”

The authors observed that research on IC is “still immature” and its evaluation inconsistent; but they stressed that standard measurement for IC should be developed and heavily promoted.

This study was conducted by researchers at Peking University, Beijing, PR China; The Fourth Affiliated Hospital of Hebei Medica University, Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, PR China; and Hebei Puai Aged Care Ltd. Co., Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, PR China.

Get more information on the findings above and more details about the study. To contact the researchers or JAMDA editors for an interview, please email





JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. JAMDA publishes peer-reviewed articles including original studies, reviews, clinical experience articles, case reports, and more, on all topics more important to post-acute and long-term care medicine. Visit for more information.


About AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine
AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings. Dedicated to defining and improving quality, we advance our mission through timely professional development, evidence-based clinical guidance, and tireless advocacy on behalf of members, patients, families, and staff. Visit for more information.