Year of Publication

2017

College

Public Health

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Steve Browning, PhD

Committee Member

Lorie Chesnut, DrPH

Committee Member

Glyn G. Caldwell, MD

Abstract

Purpose: The aim of this study was to gain a better understanding of how individuals view and analyze their health by evaluating the relationship between self-reported health (SRH) status and several variables representing health and lifestyle characteristics. Assessing the ability of self-reported health status to measure overall health was an additional objective of the study.

Methods: A secondary, cross-sectional study was conducted using information from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey for adults 18 and older. Data were stratified and compared based on a self-rated health status of either excellent or very good, good, or fair and poor, yielding a final sample of 83,812 respondents. Basic statistical frequency analysis were performed, followed by the calculation of odds ratios and associated confidence intervals to further explore the relationship between SRH and influential sociodemographic and health conditions. Logistic regression enabled the odds of reporting a lower health status to be estimated, adjusting for several key variables included in the analysis.

Results: The unadjusted odds of reporting poor SRH compared to excellent were significantly higher for respondents suffering from at least one chronic condition causing a limitation of activity (OR: 5.48, 95%CI: 3.68, 8.16). A finding that remained significant even after the model was fully adjusted (OR: 2.49, 95%CI 1.17, 5.29). An inverse gradient was observed between education level and poor SRH with individuals lacking a diploma being three times as likely to report poor SRH (OR: 3.05, 95%CI: 1.73, 5.39).

Conclusions: The consistent relationship observed between chronic condition limitation and a lower SRH ranking further elucidates the impact disease burdens have on quality of life and day-to-day activities. Although SRH is a broad and widespread measure of health, results suggest that it might be more reliable indicator for specific subgroups. This study found that those with specific limitations due to weight, diabetes, lung and breathing problems, and heart ailments reported poorer health. The nature of SRH data limited the study by response bias and varying definitions of health at each level varying from excellent to poor. Although the cognitive mechanism of health ratings remains unclear, it is evident that men and women of varying ages process information about health differently.

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