Author(s): Ayalon L, Covinsky KE
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Abstract BACKGROUND: The Health and Retirement Study is a national sample of Americans older than 50 years and their spouses. The present study evaluated cross-sectional and longitudinal data from January 2000 through December 2006. The objective of the study was to evaluate the roles of spouse-rated vs self-rated health as predictors of all-cause mortality among adults older than 50 years. METHODS: A total of 673 dyads of married couples were randomly selected to participate in a Health and Retirement Study module examining spouse-rated health. For each couple, one member was asked to rate his or her overall health status, and his or her spouse was asked to report the partner's overall health status. Mortality data were available through 2006. RESULTS: Our findings demonstrate that spouse-rated health (area under the curve, 0.75) is as strong a predictor of mortality as self-rated health (area under the curve, 0.73) (chi(2)(1) = 0.36, P = .54). Combining spouse-rated and self-rated health predicts mortality better than using self-rated health alone (area under the curve, 0.77) (chi(2)(1) = 6.72, P = .009). CONCLUSIONS: Spouse ratings of health are at least as strongly predictive of mortality as self-rated health. This suggests that, when self-rated health is elicited as a prognostic indicator, spouse ratings can be used when self-ratings are unavailable. Both measures together may be more informative than either measure alone.
This article was published in Arch Intern Med
and referenced in Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research