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Two views of self-rated general health status


  • Bailis, Daniel S.
  • Segall, Alexander
  • Chipperfield, Judith G.


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Bailis, Daniel S. & Segall, Alexander & Chipperfield, Judith G., 2003. "Two views of self-rated general health status," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 203-217, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:2:p:203-217

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    5. Lori J. Curtis, 2007. "Health Status of On and Off-reserve Aboriginal Peoples: Analysis of the Aboriginal Peoples Survey," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 191, McMaster University.
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    10. McBride, Colleen M. & Puleo, Elaine & Pollak, Kathryn I. & Clipp, Elizabeth C. & Woolford, Sam & Emmons, Karen M., 2008. "Understanding the role of cancer worry in creating a "teachable moment" for multiple risk factor reduction," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 790-800, February.
    11. Bakshi, Sanjeev & Pathak, Prasanta, 2010. "What makes them feel healthier? the correlates of self-perceived health among older adults in India," MPRA Paper 40541, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    13. Gunasekara, Fiona Imlach & Carter, Kristie & Blakely, Tony, 2012. "Comparing self-rated health and self-assessed change in health in a longitudinal survey: Which is more valid?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(7), pages 1117-1124.
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    16. Koopmans, Gerrit T. & Lamers, Leida M., 2007. "Gender and health care utilization: The role of mental distress and help-seeking propensity," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(6), pages 1216-1230, March.
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    18. Vie, Tina Løkke & Hufthammer, Karl Ove & Holmen, Turid Lingaas & Meland, Eivind & Breidablik, Hans Johan, 2014. "Is self-rated health a stable and predictive factor for allostatic load in early adulthood? Findings from the Nord Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT)," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 1-9.
    19. Rees, Philip Howell & Wohland, Pia N. & Norman, Paul D., 2009. "The estimation of mortality for ethnic groups at local scale within the United Kingdom," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 1592-1607, December.
    20. Holly Heard & Bridget Gorman & Carolyn Kapinus, 2008. "Family Structure and Self-Rated Health in Adolescence and Young Adulthood," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 27(6), pages 773-797, December.
    21. Wedow, Robbee & Briley, Daniel A. & Short, Susan E. & Boardman, Jason D., 2016. "Gender and genetic contributions to weight identity among adolescents and young adults in the U.S," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 99-107.
    22. Anna Zajacova & Bethany G. Everett, 2014. "The Nonequivalent Health of High School Equivalents," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 95(1), pages 221-238, March.
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    24. Wim Peersman & Dirk Cambier & Jan Maeseneer & Sara Willems, 2012. "Gender, educational and age differences in meanings that underlie global self-rated health," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 57(3), pages 513-523, June.
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