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Socio-economic and demographic variation in health and in its measures: the issue of reporting heterogeneity


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  • Shmueli, Amir
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    True health state is an unobservable concept. Researchers and practitioners now have access to a large variety of tools to measure the health state and health related quality of life by self-reports. Socio-demographic variation in these measures is usually interpreted as variation in health. However, building on several measures simultaneously (multiple indicators), true health might be better represented, so that socio-demographic variation in any indicator can be decomposed into variation in the estimated true health, and measure-specific variation, holding true health constant. The latter variation is referred to as "reporting heterogeneity". Using structural equations models, the paper provides an empirical assessment of reporting heterogeneity in three popular measures of health and health related quality of life: the number of chronic conditions (CHRON), the SF-36 instrument and the visual analogue rating scale. Considering a large array of socio-economic and demographic characteristics from an Israeli health survey, the results indicate the existence of age-related reporting heterogeneity in the CHRON; income-related heterogeneity in the rating scale measure; and age, sex, income, ethnic origin and religiosity-related reporting heterogeneity in the SF-36 tool, in particular in its mental component scale. The main implication of reporting heterogeneity on the common uses of self-reported health measures is the need to adjust the measures not only for the determinants of health but also for the determinants of reporting heterogeneity.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 57 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 1 (July)
    Pages: 125-134

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:57:y:2003:i:1:p:125-134

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    Keywords: Self-reported health SF-36 Visual analogue rating scale Structural equation models Israel;


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    Cited by:
    1. Sandy Tubeuf & Florence Jusot & Marion Devaux & Catherine Sermet, 2008. "Social heterogeneity in self-reported health status and measurement of inequalities in health," Working Papers DT12, IRDES institut for research and information in health economics, revised Jun 2008.
    2. Lindeboom, Maarten & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 2004. "Cut-Point Shift and Index Shift in Self-Reported Health," IZA Discussion Papers 1286, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Sermet, Catherine & Tubeuf, Sandy & Devaux, Marion & Jusot, Florence, 2008. "Hétérogénéité sociale de déclaration de l’état de santé et mesure des inégalités de santé," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/423, Paris Dauphine University.
    4. Groot, Wim & Maassen van den Brink, Henriette, 2007. "The health effects of education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 186-200, April.
    5. Florence Jusot & Sabine Mage & Marta Menendez, 2014. "Inequality of Opportunity in Health in Indonesia," Working Papers DT/2014/06, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
    6. Sermet, Catherine & Dourgnon, Paul & Silva, Jérôme & Jusot, Florence, 2008. "État de santé des populations immigrées en France," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/7005, Paris Dauphine University.
    7. Sandy Tubeuf & Marc Perronnin, 2008. "New prospects in the analysis of inequalities in health: a measurement of health encompassing several dimensions of health," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 08/01, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    8. Layes, Audrey & Asada, Yukiko & Kephart, George, 2012. "Whiners and deniers – What does self-rated health measure?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 1-9.


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