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J Clin Epidemiol. 2006 May;59(5):465-71. Epub 2006 Mar 15.

Self-rated health showed a graded association with frequently used biomarkers in a large population sample.

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  • 1University of Tampere, School of Public Health, Medisiinarinkatu 3, Tampere, FIN-33014, Finland.



Self-rated health is a widely used measure of health status, but its biologic foundations are poorly understood. We investigated the association of frequently used biomarkers with self-rated health, and the role of these biomarkers in the association of self-rated health with mortality.


The relation of self-rated health to blood levels of albumin, white blood cell count, hemoglobin, HDL cholesterol, and creatinine was examined in a population-based sample of 4,065 men and women aged 71 years or older. A Cox proportional hazards model was used to determine the association of self-rated health with mortality during 4.9 years. Sociodemographic factors, diagnosed chronic conditions, and activities of daily living disability were controlled for in these analyses.


All the biomarkers showed a graded relationship with self-rated health. After adjusting for other indicators, hemoglobin and white cell count were significantly associated with fair or poor self-rated health. When biomarkers and other indicators were adjusted for, self-rated health still was a significant predictor of mortality.


Self-rated health has a biologic basis, and it can be a sensitive barometer of physiologic states. Self-rated health is likely to predict mortality because it covers the spectrum of health conditions better than the variables measured in the study.

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