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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Open Public Health Journal
Title A single-vs. multi-item self-rated health status measure: a 21-country study
Author(s)
Volume 5
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
Page numbers 1-9
URL http://benthamopen.com/contents/pdf/TOPHJ/TOPHJ-5-1.pdf
Abstract
Objectives: Data have been collected on self-rated health using a single question on how individuals rate their
health in cross-sectional surveys carried out in a large number of countries. Doubts have been expressed about the validity
of this measure and this was the main reason to undertake the current study. Study Design: Data of 21 cross-sectional
surveys were analyzed derived from the World Health Survey (WHS) carried out among adults in 2002-2003. Methods:
We compared the single-item self-rated health measure with a multi-item health status index. Information on both types of
measures was available from WHS. The multi-item index was constructed using data on functional limitations in daily
activities. Results: The relationship of age with the multi-item health status index was linear while the relationship of age
with self-rated health deviated from linearity in the younger and the oldest age groups. Both measures were compared
with two criterion variables: life expectancy at age 20 and self-reported chronic conditions. The multi-item index was
more strongly related to life expectancy and to chronic conditions than was the single-item self-rated health measure.
Conclusions: The multi-item health status index could be a stronger predictor of mortality than the single-item self-rated
health measure. It is recommended to rely in health surveys as much as possible on multi-item health status measures.
Single-item self-rated health measures should continue to be used in situations where there are no other alternatives
available, but researchers and policy makers should be aware of their limitations

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