Diagnoses of Chronic Health Conditions and Change in Subjective Age: The Moderating Role of Chronological Age.

TitleDiagnoses of Chronic Health Conditions and Change in Subjective Age: The Moderating Role of Chronological Age.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsPrasad, A, Miller, EAlan, Burr, JA, Boerner, K
ISSN Number1758-5341
KeywordsChronic Diseases, Felt age, Perceived age

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Health is a predictor of subjective age, and although inconclusive, the strength of this association is not uniform across different age groups. This study investigates if new diagnoses of chronic health conditions are associated with a change in subjective age and if chronological age moderates this relationship.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, residualized change regression analysis was performed for a sample of 5,158 respondents older than 50 years to examine their subjective age in 2014 relative to that reported in 2010. The main predictor was the number of chronic health conditions newly diagnosed between 2010 and 2014. Chronological age in 2010 was the moderator.

RESULTS: Results showed that each new diagnosis of a chronic health condition was significantly associated with a 0.68-year increase in subjective age reported in 2014, compared to subjective age reported in 2010. However, this increase in subjective age was attenuated by 0.05 years for each additional year in 2010 chronological age.

DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS: According to Social and Temporal Comparison theories, people compare themselves to their age peers and earlier selves. Given expectations for better health at younger chronological ages, being diagnosed with chronic health conditions may have a stronger association with subjective age among middle-aged persons as compared to older persons. The findings suggest that subjective age may be used as a screening tool to predict how chronic disease diagnosis may influence peoples' sense of self, which in turn shapes future health.

Citation Key11604
PubMed ID33942066