5 years ago

Response shift in self-rated health after serious health events in old age

Although health generally deteriorates with advancing age, how older adults evaluate their health status (i.e., their self-rated health, SRH) remains rather positive. So far, however, little is known about how SRH in old age may change in the face of an abrupt health decline. Because change/stability in SRH may reflect not only change/stability in health but also changes in the meaning people assign to the concept of “health”, response shift effects in SRH for people with and without a serious health event are investigated in the present study in the older general population. Method Longitudinal data from 1764 participants of the German Ageing Survey aged 65 + assessed at two occasions three years apart was used to investigate changes in SRH and three types of response shift: recalibration (change in standards for good health), reprioritization (change in the importance of different factors for health), and reconceptualization (omission/inclusion of new factors). The so-called “then-test” was used to examine recalibration response shift and path analyses, to examine reprioritization and reconceptualization response shift. Results SRH declined between the two measurement occasions. As expected, people who experienced a serious health event indicated stronger declines in SRH. The study found evidence of two types of response shift. Regardless of whether they experienced a serious health event or not, individuals on average retrospectively overestimated their baseline health relative to the concurrent rating (recalibration). Furthermore, the predictive importance of depressive symptoms and optimism for SRH increased for individuals who experienced a serious health event (reprioritization). Conclusion The results indicate that older adults maintain stable SRH by using two types of response shift: recalibration and, when faced with a serious health event, reprioritization response shift.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0277953617305622

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