Self-rated oral health as an independent predictor of self-rated general health, self-esteem and life satisfaction

Soc Sci Med. 2004 Sep;59(5):1109-16. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2003.12.021.


Self-rated health (SRH) is a useful summary measure of people's general health and was found to predict future health outcomes. Self-rated oral health (SROH) is a similarly useful summary measure of people's oral health. Both are related to quality of life, especially at old age. The objectives of the study were: (1) to assess the independent contribution of SROH to concurrent and future SRH of elderly people, controlling for sociodemographics and health measures, and, (2) to assess whether SROH adds unique information not captured by SRH by testing their independent associations with self-esteem and life satisfaction. Participants were 850 residents of a retirement community (mean age 73) interviewed in their homes at baseline and 5 years later. The interview included single-item self-ratings of general and oral health, self-reports of medical history, recent chronic diseases, medication usage, functional disability, self-esteem and life satisfaction. Multiple regression analyses showed that SROH had an independent effect on concurrent and future SRH, controlling for age and other measures of health status. Both SRH and SROH independently explained a significant amount of variance in concurrent ratings of self-esteem and life satisfaction. SROH has a unique role in people's perceptions of their overall health yet is not fully captured by SRH. Therefore, it should be considered by general health care providers in their assessments of the health status of older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oral Health*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self Concept*