|The Impact of New Health Problems on Self-Reported Health Over Time
|Year of Publication
|Xu, J, Werner, R, Polsky, D
|University of Michigan Population Studies Center, PSC Publications
Background: Many cross-sectional studies have found that self-reported health is highly correlated with physical and functional indicators of health. However, the extent to which self-reported health changes with new health problems and over time has not been well documented. Objectives: To investigate how self-reported health changes over time following a new acute or chronic health problem. Research Design: Using 6 years of longitudinal data for 7388 subjects from the Health and Retirement Study of the US, we assessed self-reported health after a new health problem over 2, 4, and 6 year intervals. Seven health problems (cancer, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, psychiatric disorders, and arthritis) were included in logistic regression models to predict the impact of new health problems on self-reported health over time. The probability of recovery of self-reported health was predicted using an interaction between length of time since the new health problem occurred and the new health problem. Results: All seven new health problems examined were associated with a significant decline in self-reported health. People who reported new cancer, heart disease, and lung disease experienced the greatest decline in health status. For most health problems, self-reported health improved over time. Relative to people with no new health problems, people with new cancer and heart disease had the most significant recovery in self-reported health over time. Conclusions: Self-reported health typically gets worse after a new health problem and gradually improves over time. This pattern is particularly true for cancer and heart problems.