Content » Vol 48, Issue 8

Original report

Health and social conditions in Norwegian polio survivors: A 20-year follow-up study

Lillian Festvåg, Anne-Kristine Schanke, Nils Erik Gilhus, Sigurd Aarrestad, Kari Lofthus, Stein Johnsen, Geir Strømsholm, Steinar Øyhaugen, Ragnhild Skovly Hartviksen, Johan Kvalvik Stanghelle
Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital, Bjørnemyrveien 11, NO-1450 Nesoddtangen, Norway. E-mail:
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2118


Objective: To explore the physical and social situation of the Norwegian polio population in 2014, and to compare the status of this population in 2014 with the results of a similar survey carried out 20 years previously, in 1994.
Design: The study was based on a questionnaire covering demographics, polio history, and current medical, psychological and social conditions.
Subjects: The questionnaire was prepared in cooperation with the National Society of Polio Survivors and others with known polio (n = 1,968). A total of 1,408 persons responded (72%), mean age 70 years (range 28–98 years).
Results: The most frequent health problems reported were muscle and joint pain, cold intolerance and insomnia. New muscle weakness and loss of muscle volume were reported more frequently in 2014 than in the 1994 study. The use of orthopaedic aids, assistive devices, ventilators and other respiratory aids had increased significantly, but 83% reported that they still had no home care or nursing services support. The 2014 polio population reported only minor subjective worsening of health and well-being compared with the 1994 cohort.
Conclusion: The present study indicates that the elderly polio population are experiencing new muscle weakness and increasing health problems, but that the deterioration occurs slowly and with fewer consequences for the subjective experience of general health and well-being, indicating that the patients are adapting to their life situation. However, subgroups of the elderly polio population are in need of special care.

Lay Abstract


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