Gender and the natural history of self-rated health: a 59-year longitudinal study

Health Psychol. 2004 Nov;23(6):651-5. doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.23.6.651.


Self-ratings of health are uniquely predictive of morbidity and mortality, and they encompass people's evaluations of many medical, psychological, and social conditions in their lives. However, the longitudinal trajectory of self-rated health has not been evaluated to date. In the present study, 59-year longitudinal multilevel analyses (1940-1999) of data from 1,411 men and women revealed that self-rated health was relatively stable until age 50 and then began to decrease in an accelerating fashion through the rest of the life course. Men had higher self-rated health throughout most of adulthood than did women but had steeper linear rates of decline. As a result, the gender difference in self-rated health disappeared by late adulthood.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • United States