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BACKGROUND: Subjective accounts of health status are increasingly utilized in social surveys and medical research to assess functioning and well-being. Despite the fact that substantial research evidence suggests that self-rated health is meaningful and provides valid and reliable data, some authors have raised concerns that different social groups may interpret the notion of health in different ways, and hence complete health measures in systematically different ways. This study evaluates the validity of using self-rated health status to measure health status in different ethnic groups. METHODS: Logistic regression models were used to examine the association of self-rated health with more objective measures of morbidity in different ethnic groups. SAMPLE: Two sources of data were used--the Health Survey for England (HSE) 1991-96 combined file and the Fourth National Survey of Ethnic Minorities (Ethmins4). MEASURES OF HEALTH: Hypertension, presence of cardiovascular disease or diabetes, limiting health and number of visits to a doctor. Self-rated health was measured on 5-point scale ranging from excellent to very poor. RESULTS: Poorer self-rated health was associated with greater morbidity within each ethnic group. Furthermore, there was little evidence that the association of self-rated health with more objective measures of morbidity differed between ethnic groups. CONCLUSION: The evidence reported here suggests that the use of a single item measure of self-rated health to measure health status in different ethnic groups is valid. Further research might usefully explore the validity of using more comprehensive profile measures of health status in different ethnic groups.

Original publication




Journal article


Ethn Health

Publication Date





151 - 159


England, Ethnic Groups, Female, Health Status, Humans, Logistic Models, Male, Middle Aged