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The Increasing Predictive Validity of Self-Rated Health

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PLoS ONE

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      Abstract

      Using the 1980 to 2002 General Social Survey, a repeated cross-sectional study that has been linked to the National Death Index through 2008, this study examines the changing relationship between self-rated health and mortality. Research has established that self-rated health has exceptional predictive validity with respect to mortality, but this validity may be deteriorating in light of the rapid medicalization of seemingly superficial conditions and increasingly high expectations for good health. Yet the current study shows the validity of self-rated health is increasing over time. Individuals are apparently better at assessing their health in 2002 than they were in 1980 and, for this reason, the relationship between self-rated health and mortality is considerably stronger across all levels of self-rated health. Several potential mechanisms for this increase are explored. More schooling and more cognitive ability increase the predictive validity of self-rated health, but neither of these influences explains the growing association between self-rated health and mortality. The association is also invariant to changing causes of death, including a decline in accidental deaths, which are, by definition, unanticipated by the individual. Using data from the final two waves of data, we find suggestive evidence that exposure to more health information is the driving force, but we also show that the source of information is very important. For example, the relationship between self-rated health and mortality is smaller among those who use the internet to find health information than among those who do not.

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      Most cited references 25

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      Self-rated health and mortality: a review of twenty-seven community studies.

      We examine the growing number of studies of survey respondents' global self-ratings of health as predictors of mortality in longitudinal studies of representative community samples. Twenty-seven studies in U.S. and international journals show impressively consistent findings. Global self-rated health is an independent predictor of mortality in nearly all of the studies, despite the inclusion of numerous specific health status indicators and other relevant covariates known to predict mortality. We summarize and review these studies, consider various interpretations which could account for the association, and suggest several approaches to the next stage of research in this field.
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        Mortality prediction with a single general self-rated health question. A meta-analysis.

        Health planners and policy makers are increasingly asking for a feasible method to identify vulnerable persons with the greatest health needs. We conducted a systematic review of the association between a single item assessing general self-rated health (GSRH) and mortality. Systematic MEDLINE and EMBASE database searches for studies published from January 1966 to September 2003. Two investigators independently searched English language prospective, community-based cohort studies that reported (1) all-cause mortality, (2) a question assessing GSRH; and (3) an adjusted relative risk or equivalent. The investigators searched the citations to determine inclusion eligibility and abstracted data by following a standardized protocol. Of the 163 relevant studies identified, 22 cohorts met the inclusion criteria. Using a random effects model, compared with persons reporting "excellent" health status, the relative risk (95% confidence interval) for all-cause mortality was 1.23 [1.09, 1.39], 1.44 [1.21, 1.71], and 1.92 [1.64, 2.25] for those reporting "good,"fair," and "poor" health status, respectively. This relationship was robust in sensitivity analyses, limited to studies that adjusted for co-morbid illness, functional status, cognitive status, and depression, and across subgroups defined by gender and country of origin. Persons with "poor" self-rated health had a 2-fold higher mortality risk compared with persons with "excellent" self-rated health. Subjects' responses to a simple, single-item GSRH question maintained a strong association with mortality even after adjustment for key covariates such as functional status, depression, and co-morbidity.
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          Trust and sources of health information: the impact of the Internet and its implications for health care providers: findings from the first Health Information National Trends Survey.

          The context in which patients consume health information has changed dramatically with diffusion of the Internet, advances in telemedicine, and changes in media health coverage. The objective of this study was to provide nationally representative estimates for health-related uses of the Internet, level of trust in health information sources, and preferences for cancer information sources. Data from the Health Information National Trends Survey were used. A total of 6369 persons 18 years or older were studied. The main outcome measures were online health activities, levels of trust, and source preference. Analyses indicated that 63.0% (95% confidence interval [CI], 61.7%-64.3%) of the US adult population in 2003 reported ever going online, with 63.7% (95% CI, 61.7%-65.8%) of the online population having looked for health information for themselves or others at least once in the previous 12 months. Despite newly available communication channels, physicians remained the most highly trusted information source to patients, with 62.4% (95% CI, 60.8%-64.0%) of adults expressing a lot of trust in their physicians. When asked where they preferred going for specific health information, 49.5% (95% CI, 48.1%-50.8%) reported wanting to go to their physicians first. When asked where they actually went, 48.6% (95% CI, 46.1%-51.0%) reported going online first, with only 10.9% (95% CI, 9.5%-12.3%) going to their physicians first. The Health Information National Trends Survey data portray a tectonic shift in the ways in which patients consume health and medical information, with more patients looking for information online before talking with their physicians.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            University of Pennsylvania, Department of Sociology, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America
            University of California, United States of America
            Author notes

            Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

            Conceived and designed the experiments: JS VB. Analyzed the data: JS VB. Wrote the paper: JS VB.

            Contributors
            Role: Editor
            Journal
            PLoS One
            PLoS ONE
            plos
            plosone
            PLoS ONE
            Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
            1932-6203
            2014
            22 January 2014
            : 9
            : 1
            3899056 PONE-D-13-13145 10.1371/journal.pone.0084933

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

            Counts
            Pages: 11
            Funding
            The authors have no support or funding to report.
            Categories
            Research Article
            Biology
            Population Biology
            Epidemiology
            Social Epidemiology
            Population Metrics
            Medicine
            Epidemiology
            Survey Methods
            Mental Health
            Psychology
            Social Psychology
            Non-Clinical Medicine
            Health Care Policy
            Health Education and Awareness
            Psychological and Psychosocial Issues
            Communication in Health Care
            Medical Sociology
            Public Health
            Behavioral and Social Aspects of Health
            Social and Behavioral Sciences
            Psychology
            Social Psychology
            Sociology

            Uncategorized

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