Objectives: This study aimed to identify some of the correlates of self-rated health for young to middle-aged Australian women.
Methods: Regression analyses were based on a 4-year longitudinal study using a random sample of Sydney women 20 to 59 years of age at baseline. Participants were interviewed in 1986/87 and 1990.
Results: Cross-sectional relationships between self-assessed health and other health measures varied significantly by age, although physical health was a common correlate. Sixty-three percent of participants reported a similar rating of health over the 4-year period between the surveys. Changes in self-assessed health were sensitive to chronic disease. Also, participants' self-ratings of health were related to their subsequent chronic disease status.
Conclusions: Self-rated health reflects a complex process of internalized calculations that encompass both lived experience and knowledge of disease causes and consequences. Women seem to take into consideration a broad range of factors, including lifestyle, vitality, mental attitude, and age, and, if they have a health condition, the chronicity of their disease, duration since diagnosis, and treatment.