Self-assessments of health: What do people know that predicts their mortality?

Yael Benyamini, Elaine A. Leventhal, Howard Leventhal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Factors reflecting current experience - for example, number of medications used, poor function, negative affects, and positive affect - had stronger associations with self-assessments of health (SAH) than factors related to prior events (medical history, prior smoking) in baseline data from 830 elderly retirement-community residents (mean age = 73). Participants appear to have implicit knowledge of the factors affecting their SAH: The rank order of the beta weights relating factors to SAH was correlated with the rank order of participant ratings of the attention given to each factor when making SAH judgments. Relationships of SAH and each of the factors to five year mortality showed that subjectively salient factors such as function and lack of energy predicted five-year mortality, reduced the relationship of SAH to mortality, and accounted for most of the relationship of medical factors to mortality. Affective variables, however, had no relationship to mortality despite their impact on SAH.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-500
Number of pages24
JournalResearch on Aging
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1999


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