Trajectories of self-rated health in the last 15 years of life by cause of death
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- Stenholm, S., Kivimäki, M., Jylhä, M. et al. Eur J Epidemiol (2016) 31: 177. doi:10.1007/s10654-015-0071-0
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Poor self-rated health is associated with increased risk of mortality, but no previous study has examined how long-term trajectories of self-rated health differ among people at risk of subsequent death compared to those who survive. Data were drawn from French occupational cohort (the GAZEL study, 1989–2010). This nested case–control study included 915 deceased men and women and 2578 controls matched for sex, baseline age, occupational grade and marital status. Self-rated health was measured annually and dichotomized into good versus poor health. Trajectories of poor self-rated health up to 15 years were compared among people who subsequently died to those who survived. Participants contributed to an average 10.3 repeated assessments of self-rated health. Repeated-measures log-binomial regression analysis with generalized estimating equations showed an increased prevalence of poor self-rated health in cases 13–15 years prior to death from ischemic and other cardiovascular disease [multivariable-adjusted risk ratio 2.06, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 1.55–2.75], non-smoking-related cancers (1.57, 95 % CI 1.30–1.89), and suicide (1.78, 95 % CI 1.00–3.16). Prior to death from ischemic and other cardiovascular disease, increased rates of poor self-rated health were evident even among persons who were free of cardiovascular diseases (2.05, 95 % CI 1.50–2.78). In conclusion, perceptions of health diverged between the surviving controls and the deceased already 15 years prior to death. For cardiovascular mortality, decline in self-rated health started before diagnosis of the disease leading to death. The findings suggest that declining self-rated health might capture pathological changes before and beyond the disease diagnosis.