Two views of self-rated general health status
Global self-evaluations of health have proven to be sensitive predictors of morbidity and mortality. Yet researchers have only a limited understanding of how these self-evaluations are reached. This research compares two interpretations of self-rated health, as reflecting either a spontaneous assessment of one's health status and related practices, or an aspect of one's enduring self-concept. Using longitudinal data from successive waves of the National Population Health Survey in Canada (Statistics Canada, 1994-95, 1996-97, NPHS public use microdata documentation. Ottawa, Ontario: Statistics Canada; n=7505), our analysis tests a model of change in self-rated health as predicted by respondents' baseline physical and mental health symptoms, social support, leisure physical activity, smoking, body mass index, and 2-yr changes in these characteristics. As in past research, self-rated health was sensitive to improvement or decline in these predictors. Much of the explained variance, however, was unique to respondents' self-rated health 2Â yr earlier. Moreover, the effect of several predictors on respondents' self-rated health varied according to whether respondents intended to improve specific health-related behaviours in the future. These findings suggest that self-rated health is not only a spontaneous assessment of one's health status and related practices; like a self-concept, self-rated health may be regulated by efforts to achieve one's relatively important health-related goals.
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Volume (Year): 56 (2003)
Issue (Month): 2 (January)
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