Self-rated economic condition and the health of elderly persons in Hong Kong
Studies have documented that health and income are important variables affecting the quality of life in old age. However, there is little knowledge about whether perceived financial sufficiency affects the health of elderly persons. Recent research has documented that in addition to material and behavioural determinants, psychosocial pathways also have an influence on health inequalities. This is the first paper to examine the relation between self-rated economic condition (measured with a single item question) and reported health conditions (i.e., somatic complaints, diagnosed physical diseases, functional health (Activities of Daily Living), self-rated health, and mental health status (General Health Questionnaire-30 [GHQ-30]) among elderly persons in Hong Kong. The respondents of the study were persons aged 65 and over residing in public housing estates in the Southern District of Hong Kong Island. Four hundred and fifty respondents were interviewed in 1995 by means of a structured questionnaire. The study found that although it did not record the actual income levels of the respondents, the subjective measure vividly demonstrated the health differentials among the elderly respondents. Multiple regression analyses suggested that self-rated economic condition was a significant predictor of the number of somatic complaints and physical illnesses reported, as well as of functional health, self-rated health, and mental health status (controlling for socio-demographic variables). However, the measure explained a higher proportion of variance in models related to psychological health than those related to physical health. The findings substantiated the role of psychosocial processes in understanding perceived health and illness and health inequalities in particular.
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Volume (Year): 55 (2002)
Issue (Month): 8 (October)
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