The Association Between Physical Functioning and Self-rated General Health in Later Life: The Implications of Social Comparison

Hongjun Yin*, Swu Jane Lin, Sheldon X. Kong, Kenza Benzeroual, Stephanie Y. Crawford, Donald Hedeker, Bruce L. Lambert, Naoko Muramatsu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Self-rated general health has been used widely in health surveys as a single-item measurement of health-rated quality of life. Heterogeneity in self-evaluation of health has been well documented, yet the causes of this heterogeneity are poorly understood. This study evaluated the moderating effects of age, aging, gender, race, education and income on the relationship between physical functioning and self-rated general health using social comparison theory as a guiding framework. A longitudinal mixed-effects regression model was used to analyze a cohort enrolled into the Health and Retirement Study in 1993 that was interviewed at baseline and during four subsequent waves. The results revealed that the association between physical functioning and self-rated general health is weaker among subgroups that tend to have lower health status; i. e., older individuals, non-Caucasians and less educated individuals. These findings suggest the usefulness of social comparison theory in explaining self-rated general health and provide the basis for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalApplied Research in Quality of Life
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

Keywords

  • Physical functioning
  • Self-rated general health
  • Social comparison theory
  • Socio-demographic
  • Socio-economic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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