Self-reported health and adult mortality risk: an analysis of cause-specific mortality

Soc Sci Med. 2004 Sep;59(6):1297-306. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2003.01.001.


The relationship between self-reported health and mortality is well documented, but less well understood. This study uses the National Health Interview Survey linked to mortality data from the National Death Index to examine the association between self-reported health and a comprehensive set of underlying cause of death and multiple cause of death categories. We also examined whether gender moderates the relationship between self-reported health and cause-specific mortality risk. Results show that the relationship between self-rated health and mortality differs by cause of death and by number of causes. Deaths due to diabetes, infectious and respiratory diseases, and a higher number of causes are most strongly associated with subjective health. Self-reported health also exhibits a moderately strong association with deaths due to heart disease, stroke, and cancer. In contrast, self-rated health is only weakly or not associated with deaths due to accident, homicide, and suicide. The relationship between self-reported health and mortality risk is also found to be stronger among men for several causes, although not for all. These findings should help researchers and policy-makers to better understand the specific predictive power of this important global measure of health.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cause of Death*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Heart Diseases / mortality
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / mortality
  • Sex Factors
  • Stroke / mortality
  • United States / epidemiology