Objective: Self-rated health (SRH) is increasingly attracting attention as a predictor of morbidity and mortality while its relation to impaired function has been given less momentum. The aim of this study was to assess the relation between SRH and the risk of being awarded a disability pension and premature death.
Methods: Five birth-year cohorts of middle-aged men were invited to a screening programme and were followed for approximately 11 years. Of the 718 (12%) men with a disability pension granted during follow-up, 46% had perceived their health as perfect on inclusion. The corresponding figure for the remaining 5,082 men was 77%.
Results: The crude relative risk (RR) of disability pension for men with SRH less than perfect was 3.7 (3.2-4.2). After adjustment for premorbidity/medication, the RR declined to 3.3 (2.8-3.8). The crude RR of death associated with SRH less than perfect was 1.6 (1.3-2.0), unchanged after adjustment.
Conclusion: The results showed that SRH is a strong and independent predictor of disability and, to a lesser degree, of mortality.