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J Women Aging. 1999;11(4):21-41.

Gender differences in positive and negative self-assessments of health status in a national epidemiological study of Israeli aged.

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Bob Shappel School of Social Work, Tel Aviv University, Israel.


The literature in subjective health appraisals frequently notes that elderly women, more so than men, generally experience a lower quality of life in all major indicators (physical health status, functional ability, perceived income adequacy, social contacts, psychological distress, and cognitive ability). The current epidemiological study, of 1,352 reporting Israeli subjects between the ages of 75-94, was undertaken in order to obtain reliable estimates of "poor" and "excellent/good" self assessments of health in a national sample of aged; to identify the most significant correlates of "poor" and "excellent/good" assessments; and to ascertain whether the models of "poor" and "good/excellent" subjective health are different for elderly men and women. While it was found that women indeed rate their health as being poorer than men, of greater theoretical interest was the finding that the pattern of variables predicting to "poor" and "good/excellent" health are different for men and women. The findings point to the fact that the simple health self-evaluation question is not a unitary construct, but rather a complex attitudinal measure which yields different structural and conceptual results when controlling for the subjective health outcome ("poor" or "good/excellent") and when analyzing gender-dichotomized models.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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