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Psychol Aging. 2015 Jun;30(2):462-74. doi: 10.1037/a0039111. Epub 2015 May 11.

Changing predictors of self-rated health: Disentangling age and cohort effects.

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1
German Centre of Gerontology.

Abstract

Previous studies have shown that some predictors of self-rated health (SRH) become more important with age, while others become less important. Although based on cross-sectional data, these findings are often interpreted as age-related changes in evaluation criteria. However, results could be due to cohort effects as well. We attempted to disentangle age and cohort effects by combining and comparing cross-sectional and longitudinal data from a large-scale longitudinal survey. The sample consisted of 2,982 community-dwelling participants from 2 measurement occasions of the German Ageing Survey ages 40-81 years at baseline. Multigroup latent regression models were used to examine whether associations between various predictors and SRH differed between age groups and whether they changed over time. Comparisons of cross-sectional age differences in SRH-predictor associations and longitudinal age changes in the same associations allow the identification of cohort effects. Number of chronic conditions showed a constant negative association with SRH independently of age and cohort. In contrast, the association between SRH and all other predictors (physical functioning, exercise, life satisfaction, depressive symptoms, and positive affect) changed longitudinally, pointing to an age effect. Prediction of SRH by depressive symptoms and positive affect showed an additional cohort effect: The negative associations between depressive symptoms and SRH and the positive associations between positive affect and SRH were stronger among younger cohorts. The findings provide not only longitudinal support for previous cross-sectional studies, but also show the impact of historical change: Emotional facets of psychological well-being increase in relevance for SRH across cohorts.

PMID:
25961881
DOI:
10.1037/a0039111
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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