New study: positive and negative self-rated health: mirror images or alternative concepts?

Self-rated health is a widely used and recognized measure of health status. There is some discussion, however, about a possible conceptual differentiation between positive and negative self-rated health: do their determinants refer to similar but mirrored  patterns of association or are they different concepts?

The study, authored by Rainer Reile and Mall Leinsalu, was just published in the International Journal of Public Health and uses data from over 4,500 people participating in the Estonian Health Interview Survey 2006. the results indicate that positive health assessment is determined by a broad set of demographic and socioeconomic measures, physical and psychological health and well-being characteristics. On the other hand, negative health is to a large extent related to physical and psychological health measures. In other words, negative self-rated health is conceptualized more narrowly, compared to the positive one: positive human health is more complex phenomenon than the mere opposite of ill health.

In conclusion, it seems that positive and negative assessments of one’s health are not mirror images of each other but rather two alternative concepts.

What do you think?

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