Self-rated health status as a health measure: the predictive value of self-reported health status on the use of physician services and on mortality in the working-age population

J Clin Epidemiol. 1997 May;50(5):517-28. doi: 10.1016/s0895-4356(97)00045-0.


The validity of various self-reported health assessments in predicting physician contracts and all-cause mortality was investigated in a prospective study in Finland. The follow-up periods were one year for the use of physician services and ten years ten months for the mortality. The study cohort comprised 1340 men and 1500 women, 35-63 years of age at the beginning of the study. The initial health assessments were derived from postal questionnaires in 1980 (response rate 77.5%). The survey was repeated one year later to verify the stability of the respondents' perceived health status. The data on the physician contacts and mortality were registered independently. The stability of perceived health status was relatively good and the perceived health was inversely associated with the number of physician contacts per year. A consistent inverse association, standardized by age, sex and social status, was observed between perceived health status and perceived physical fitness and mortality, while the predictive value of self-reported chronic diseases was low. The results suggest that the subjective health assessments are valid health status indicator in middle-aged populations, and they can be used in cohort studies and population health monitoring.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality* / trends
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*