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Are Americans feeling less healthy? The puzzle of trends in self-rated health
Published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, June 2009
Researchers found that self-rated national health studies are too inconsistent to be used to measure trends in overall population health. The study, Are Americans feeling less healthy? The puzzle of trends in self-rated health, evaluated four national surveys from 1971 to 2007, which covered more than 900,000 people aged 18 and older. The work was done in collaboration with scientists at the Harvard University Initiative for Global Health.
Discrepancies in responses to the same item in different nationally representative surveys raise questions about the validity of inferences about population health based on self-rated health. With federal and state policymakers looking for new ways to deliver high-quality health care to people who are uninsured or underinsured and international groups (such as the World Health Organization and the G8) discussing fund allocation for health aid to developing countries, such discrepancies can have a profound impact on policy decisions. This research is part of ongoing work by IHME to assess health system performance and to develop analytic tools to harness the value of available data.
Recommendations for future work
Citation: Salomon JA, Nordhagen S, Oza S, Murray CJL. Are Americans feeling less healthy? The puzzle of trends in self-rated health. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2009; 170(3):343–351.