The Shifting Importance of Physical and Mental Health on Self Evaluations of Health Across the Life Course

Benjamin Walker , Mississippi State University
Dustin Brown, Mississippi State University

Self-rated health (SRH) is one of the most widely used and validated measures of health in the social and population health sciences. Yet, the underlying meaning of SRH remains ambiguous. While previous studies of SRH have focused on the relationship between SRH and objective measures of health (e.g., biomarkers, chronic disease, mortality risk, disability), our study uses domain-specific measures, self-rated physical and mental health, to better understand the meaning of SRH. We used data from the 2010 Cancer Control Supplement of the National Health Interview Survey which included measures of self-rated physical and mental health. Results from age stratified OLS regression models predicting SRH using self-rated physical and mental health showed that self-rated physical health was a stronger predictor of overall self-rated health than self-rated mental health. The association between physical health and self-rated health increased with age. The relative importance of mental health was greatest at younger ages.

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 Presented in Session 114. The Life Course Origins of Self-rated Health