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versão impressa ISSN 0120-4157


CARDONA, Doris et al. Index of vulnerability of elderly people in Medellín, Barranquilla, and Pasto. Biomédica [online]. 2018, vol.38, suppl.1, pp.101-113. ISSN 0120-4157.


Vulnerability can be defined as a lack of material and immaterial resources, which prevents the use of opportunities that may advance one’s self-interest. The presence of these welfare resources prevents reductions in the quality of life.


The objective of this study was to build an index of vulnerability using characteristics of the physical, human, social and functional capital of adults in three cities of Colombia in the year 2016 and to determine the factors that contribute most to vulnerability.

Materials and methods:

We conducted a transversal study with primary information sources applying 1,514 surveys among people aged 60 years and over in Medellín, Barranquilla, and Pasto. For the construction of the vulnerability index, we used factor analysis with varimax rotation and the principal component method.


The conditions that lead to a person’s vulnerability were related mainly to human capital (quality of life, mental health and habits). The other types of capital that contributed to vulnerability were physical capital (occupation), social capital (accompaniment), and functional capital (functional independence). The highest vulnerability was registered among the residents of Pasto. The factors associated with vulnerability were the city of residence, the sex, the educational level and the role of the person in the home.


In 58.55% of elderly people vulnerability was explained by the use of time, the functional independence and the subjective well-being. These findings contribute to the improvement of the quality of life, mainly those related to maintaining functional independence as long as possible, being occupied, improving mental health, and avoiding the risks of depression, anxiety, cognitive deterioration and deleterious habits.

Palavras-chave : Aged; frail elderly; vulnerability analysis; mental health; occupations; aging.

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