Does self-rated health predict death in adults aged 50 years and above in India? Evidence from a rural population under health and demographic surveillance

Int J Epidemiol. 2012 Dec;41(6):1719-27; author reply 1727-8. doi: 10.1093/ije/dys163. Epub 2012 Nov 21.


Background: The Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE) aims to improve empirical understanding of health and well-being of adults in developing countries. We examine the role of self-rated health (SRH) in predicting mortality and assess how socio-demographic and other disability measures influence this association.

Methods: In 2007, a shortened SAGE questionnaire was administered to 5087 adults aged ≥50 years under the Health Demographic Surveillance System in rural Pune district, India. Respondents rated their own health with a single global question on SRH. Disability and well-being were assessed using the WHO Disability Assessment Schedule Index, Health State Score and quality-of-life score. Respondents were followed up every 6 months till June 2011. Any change in spousal support, migration or death during follow-up was updated in the SAGE dataset.

Results: In all, 410 respondents (8%) died in the 3-year follow-up period. Mortality risk was higher with bad/very bad SRH [hazard ratio (HR) in men: 3.06, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.93-4.87; HR in women: 1.64, 95% CI: 0.94-2.86], independent of age, disability and other covariates. Disability measure (WHO Disability Assessment Schedule Index) and absence of spousal support were also associated with increased mortality risk.

Conclusion: Our findings confirm an association between bad/very bad SRH and mortality for men, independent of age, socio-demographic factors and other disability measures, in a rural Indian population. This association loses significance in women when adjusted for disability. Our study highlights the strength of nesting cross-sectional surveys within the context of the Health Demographic Surveillance System in studying the role of SRH and mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self Report*
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors