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PLoS One. 2011 Feb 28;6(2):e17345. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0017345.

Differences in self-reported health in the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) and Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III).

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.



To assess self-reported health status (SRHS) in two cohorts of participants with radiographic knee osteoarthritis (OA) and examine the extent that differences in SRHS are due to study design.


We used data from the Third National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES-III; population-based national survey) and the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI; prospective cohort study). Inclusion criteria for this analysis were age 60-79 and presence of radiographic knee OA. SRHS, elicited as a five-item domain (excellent, very good, good, fair, poor), was analyzed by dichotomizing the general health status measure as "fair/poor" versus all other states. We estimated the proportion of participants in fair/poor health from each study. Propensity score methodology was used to adjust for the differences in sampling strategies between the two studies.


Thirty-four percent (Nā€Š=ā€Š1,608) of OAI and 29% (Nā€Š=ā€Š756) of NHANES-III participants satisfied inclusion criteria. The proportion in fair/poor health was higher in NHANES-III (28%) than in OAI (5%). After adjusting for the propensity score, the proportion in fair/poor health was four times higher in NHANES-III than in OAI.


SRHS was substantially better in OAI than in NHANES-III. Self-selection bias may contribute to overestimation of SRHS in prospective cohort studies such as OAI.

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