Health trajectories: long-term dynamics among black and white adults

J Health Soc Behav. 1997 Mar;38(1):38-54.


Disability has long been identified as a predictor of self-assessed health, but some studies suggest the opposite causal direction. The aim of this study is to examine the dynamic relationships between physical disability and assessments of health among Black and White adults while simultaneously considering changing morbidity. Research questions include: Do more negative health assessments lead to greater morbidity and physical disability? Do negative health assessments lead to a cycle of health decline over time? These questions were addressed for Black and White respondents over 15 years using data from three waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I: Epidemiologic Follow-Up Study. Results from structural equation modeling reveal that self-assessed health predicts subsequent change in health, suggesting a cycle between health problems and negative health assessments for both White and Black adults. In addition, self-assessed health among African Americans declined at a faster rate than was the case for White adults.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White People / psychology*