IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Do measures of self-reported morbidity bias the estimation of the determinants of health care utilisation?


  • Sutton, Matthew
  • Carr-Hill, Roy
  • Gravelle, Hugh
  • Rice, Nigel


Most national surveys of health care utilisation capture only self-reported measures of morbidity. If self-reported morbidity is measured with error, then the results of applied work may be misleading. In this paper we propose a model of the relationship between morbidity and health service utilisation which allows for reporting errors and simultaneity. Errors in self-reported morbidity are expressed as a function of person-specific reporting thresholds and recent contact with health services, arising because of better self-evaluation of current health status or a desire to justify consumption of a publicly-provided good. We demonstrate the bias in ignoring the potential problems of reporting errors and simultaneity for a variety of special cases, but in the general case the biases are of ambiguous sign. The empirical nature of these biases is investigated using limiting long-standing illness (LLI) and recent contact with a General Practitioner (GP) in two waves of The UK Health and Lifestyle Survey. Biomedical measures of functioning are used as objective indicators of health status. We find evidence of substantial and significant differences between individuals in reporting thresholds and some evidence that the reporting of LLI may depend on recent visits to a GP. Adjustments for these biases significantly increase the estimated effect of morbidity on utilisation.

Suggested Citation

  • Sutton, Matthew & Carr-Hill, Roy & Gravelle, Hugh & Rice, Nigel, 1999. "Do measures of self-reported morbidity bias the estimation of the determinants of health care utilisation?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 49(7), pages 867-878, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:49:y:1999:i:7:p:867-878

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Matthew Jowett & Anil Deolalikar & Peter Martinsson, 2004. "Health insurance and treatment seeking behaviour: evidence from a low-income country," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(9), pages 845-857.
    2. Sato, Azusa, 2012. "Do Inequalities in Health Care Utilization in Developing Countries Change When We Take into Account Traditional Medicines?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(11), pages 2275-2289.
    3. Laudicella, Mauro & Cookson, Richard & Jones, Andrew M. & Rice, Nigel, 2009. "Health care deprivation profiles in the measurement of inequality and inequity: An application to GP fundholding in the English NHS," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 1048-1061, December.
    4. Alessio Petrelli & Roberta Picariello & Giuseppe Costa, 2010. "Toward a needs based mechanism for capitation purposes in Italy: the role of socioeconomic level in explaining differences in the use of health services," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 29-42, March.
    5. repec:eee:hepoli:v:121:y:2017:i:10:p:1063-1071 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Carol Propper & Jenny Eachus & Philip Chan & Nicky Pearson & George Davey Smith, 2005. "Access to health care resources in the UK: the case of care for arthritis," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(4), pages 391-406.
    7. Tianhui Chen & Lu Li, 2009. "Influence of health-related quality of life on health service utilization in addition to socio-demographic and morbidity variables among primary care patients in China," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 54(5), pages 325-332, October.
    8. Morris, Stephen & Sutton, Matthew & Gravelle, Hugh, 2005. "Inequity and inequality in the use of health care in England: an empirical investigation," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(6), pages 1251-1266, March.
    9. Teresa Bago d'Uva, 2005. "Latent class models for use of primary care: evidence from a British panel," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(9), pages 873-892.
    10. Pat McGregor & Pat McKee & Ciaran O’Neill, 2006. "GP Utilisation in Northern Ireland - Exploiting the Gatekeeper Function," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 37(1), pages 71-90.
    11. Laura Vallejo-Torres & Stephen Morris, 2011. "Factors associated with the use of primary care services: the role of practice nurses," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 12(4), pages 373-381, August.
    12. Tavares, Lara Patrício & Zantomio, Francesca, 2017. "Inequity in healthcare use among older people after 2008: The case of southern European countries," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 121(10), pages 1063-1071.
    13. Richard Cookson & Mark Dusheiko & Geoffrey Hardman, 2006. "Socio-economic inequality in small area use of elective total hip replacement in the English NHS in 1991 and 2001," Working Papers 015cherp, Centre for Health Economics, University of York.
    14. Burstrom, Bo, 2002. "Increasing inequalities in health care utilisation across income groups in Sweden during the 1990s?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 117-129, November.
    15. Vallejo-Torres, Laura & Morris, Stephen & Carr-Hill, Roy & Dixon, Paul & Law, Malcom & Rice, Nigel & Sutton, Matthew, 2009. "Can regional resource shares be based only on prevalence data? An empirical investigation of the proportionality assumption," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 1634-1642, December.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:49:y:1999:i:7:p:867-878. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.