A simple measure with complex determinants: investigation of the correlates of self-rated health in older men and women from three continents
French, Davina J
Luszcz, Mary Alice
Anstey, Kaarin Jane
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Self-rated health is commonly employed in research studies that seek to assess the health status of older individuals. Perceptions of health are, however, influenced by individual and societal level factors that may differ within and between countries. This study investigates levels of self-rated health (SRH) and correlates of SRH among older adults in Australia, United States of America (USA), Japan and South Korea. We conclude that when examining correlates of SRH, the similarities are greater than the differences between countries. There are however differences in levels of SRH which are not fully accounted for by the health correlates. Broad generalizations about styles of responding are not helpful for understanding these differences, which appear to be country- and possibly cohort-specific. When using SRH to characterize the health status of older people, it is important to consider earlier life experiences of cohorts as well as national and individual factors in later life. Further research is required to understand the complex societal influences on perceptions of health.