To combine or not to combine? Specific vs general self-reported health indicators
In many population surveys, health status is represented either by self-reported specific measures or by single questions general health indicators, like the Self-Rated Health (SRH) and the Global Activity Limitation Indicator (GALI). Both of those indicators have been found to be associated with morbidity and disability, while the SRH also predicts mortality (which is unclear for the GALI).
In a recently published study, Georgia Verropoulou aimed to assess the relative importance of specific versus general self-reported indicators of health and disability in predicting mortality among older adults and to explore the value of the GALI as predictor of mortality.
This paper uses data from two waves of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) in 2004 and 2006-2007. Data from 17,941 participants aged 50+ and coming from 11 different countries are analyzed in this paper.
The author reports that the combination of specific and general measures is more efficient in predicting mortality than either of these two type of measures alone. General indicators add health information beyond specific measures, representing though different aspects by gender. Moreover, GALI is shown to be a strong predictor of mortality, something that deserves further exploration.