Socioeconomic differences in self-assessed health in a chronically ill population: the role of different health aspects

J Behav Med. 2000 Oct;23(5):399-420. doi: 10.1023/a:1005552814010.


We investigated the role that different health aspects play in the explanation of socioeconomic differences in self-assessed health. Socioeconomic differences in self-assessed health were investigated in relation to chronic disease, functional limitations, psychosomatic symptoms, and perceived discomfort/distress. In multiple logistic regression analyses, for three cutoff points of self-assessed health, significant socioeconomic differences in self-assessed health could be observed after adjusting for age and gender. After separate adjustment for each of the four health aspects, the analyses showed that for a health assessment as less-than-good and less-than-fair, psychosomatic symptoms were the most powerful explanatory factor. Perceived discomfort/distress proved to be the most powerful factor for a poor health assessment. We found that socioeconomic differences in self-assessed health could, to a large extent (72-80%), be explained through socioeconomic differences in the prevalence of the four types of health problems included in the study. For all cutoff points, objective health aspects accounted for a relatively small part of the socioeconomic variability in self-assessed health. More subjective aspects of health accounted for more of the variability.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Socioeconomic Factors