Background: Self-rated health is a commonly used measure of health status, usually having three to five categories. The measure is often collapsed into a dichotomous variable of good versus less than good health. This categorization has not yet been justified.
Methods: Using data from the 1958 British birth cohort, we examined the relationship between socioeconomic conditions, indicated by occupational class at four ages, and self-rated health. Results obtained for a dichotomous variable using logistic regression were compared with alternative methods for ordered categorical variables including polytomous regression, cumulative odds, continuation ratio and adjacent categories models.
Results and conclusions: Findings concerning the relationship between socioeconomic position and self-rated health yielded by a logistic regression model were confirmed by alternative statistical methods which incorporate the ordered nature of self-rated health. Similarity of results was found regarding size and significance of main effects, type of association and interactive effects.