• Vol. 35 No. 3, 190–197
  • 15 March 2006

Variables Determining Perceived Global Health Ranks: Findings from a Population-based Study

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ABSTRACT

Objective: To assess variables associated with different perceived global health ranks in an older population.

Materials and Methods: The Blue Mountains Eye Study was a population based survey of residents aged ≥49 years in an area west of Sydney, Australia. Questions relating to demographic and socioeconomic indicators, limitations of daily living activities, medical history, hearing problems, exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption were asked in a standardised questionnaire at interview. Comprehensive eye examinations were performed. Self-rated health was assessed from a standard question and categorised as excellent, good, fair or poor. Associations were assessed using logistic regression models.

Results: After exclusions, 714/3589 (19.9%) participants rated their health as excellent, 1969 (54.9%) as good, 766 (21.3%) as fair and 140 (3.9%) as poor. A wide array of study variables assessed showed significant associations with self-rated health. Compared with a self-ranking of good or excellent health, variables significantly associated in a multivariate model with a rank of poor health included: regular use of community support services, more than one hospital admission in the last 12 months, perceived inability to go out alone, difficulty walking, or history of angina, asthma or cancer. Variables significantly associated with a rank of fair health were broader and included socioeconomic status, sensory impairment, tinnitus, many chronic diseases and negative health behaviours, including smoking and heavy alcohol consumption.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that different sets of variables may influence people to rank their global health at different perceived levels.


In 1982, Mossey and Shapiro first demonstrated that global self-rating of health was a better predictor of 7-year survival than medical records or self-reports of medical conditions in participants of the Manitoba Longitudinal Study. Since then, many population-based longitudinal studies have confirmed that global self-rated health remains an independent predictor of mortality, after adjusting for other factors known to predict mortality.

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