Patients with worse mental health report more physical limitations after adjustment for physical performance

Bernice Ruo*, David W. Baker, Jason A. Thompson, Patrick K. Murray, Gail M. Huber, Joseph J. Sudano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: To determine whether mental health scores are associated with self-reported physical limitations after adjustment for physical performance. Patient-reported physical limitations are widely used to assess health status or the impact of disease. However, patients' mental health may influence their reports of their physical limitations. Methods: Mental health and physical limitations were measured using the SF-36v2 mental health and physical functioning subscales in a cross-sectional study of 1024 participants. Physical performance was measured using tests of strength, endurance, dexterity, and flexibility. Multivariable linear regression was performed to examine the relationship between self-reported mental health and physical limitations adjusting for age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, body mass index, and measured physical performance. Results: The score distributions for mental health and physical functioning were similar to that of the United States population in this age range. In unadjusted analyses, every 10-point decline in mental health scores was associated with a 4.8-point decline in physical functioning scores (95% Confidence Interval (CI) =-4.2 to-5.3; p <.001). After adjusting for covariables including measured physical performance, every 10-point decline in mental health scores was associated with a 3.0-point decline in physical functioning scores (95% CI =-2.5 to-3.6; p <.001). Conclusions: People with poor mental health scores seem to report more physical limitations than would be expected based on physical performance. When comparing self-reported physical limitations between groups, it is important to consider differences in mental health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-421
Number of pages5
JournalPsychosomatic medicine
Volume70
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2008

Keywords

  • Health status
  • Mental health
  • Physical functioning
  • Physical limitation
  • Self-assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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