Self-rated health (SRH) is among the most frequently assessed health perceptions. The purpose of this study was to assess the tenability of the recently proposed distinctions of SRH, as a spontaneous assessment of overall health, or as an enduring self-concept. Individuals (n = 449) undergoing total joint replacement for hip or knee osteoarthritis in Toronto, Canada were followed over 6 months of recovery. Health questionnaires, completed pre-surgery, and at 3 and 6 months post-surgery, included measures of pain, physical function, sports/recreation, fatigue, anxiety, depression, social participation, passive/active recreation, and community access. Structural equation modeling was used for the analyses. SRH was found to be responsive to current and changing mental well-being throughout the six months of recovery. Current SRH strongly predicted future SRH. In this clinical sample undergoing significant changes in health status, SRH displayed both enduring and spontaneous features; evidence is provided that both operate simultaneously. SRH may prove to be a simple yet critical health measure for identifying individuals who would benefit most from targeted interventions for improving overall health.
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