Quality of Life Research

, Volume 21, Issue 9, pp 1509–1518 | Cite as

Sense of control and sociodemographic differences in self-reported health in older adults

  • Michael M. WardEmail author



Stronger sense of control has been associated with improved health outcomes. This study tested whether the association between sense of control and self-reported health varied among demographic groups and whether sense of control attenuated sociodemographic differences in self-reported health.


Data from 6,815 participants in the Health and Retirement Study were used to examine moderation between demographic characteristics and sense of control (measured by the personal mastery and perceived constraints scales of the Midlife Developmental Inventory) in their associations with three self-reported health measures (global rating of fair/poor health, functional limitations, and number of comorbid conditions).


Higher personal mastery and lower perceived constraints were associated with better self-reported health. There were no significant interactions between the sense of control measures and age, gender, education level, income, or marital status in their associations with either global self-rated health or functional limitations. Higher levels of mastery were associated with lower likelihood of functional limitations among blacks and whites, but not among those of other races. Perceived constraints were slightly more strongly associated with number of comorbid conditions among older than younger individuals.


Sense of control measures were generally similarly associated with self-reported health across demographic groups and did not attenuate demographic differences in health.


Sense of control Self-rated health Functional limitations Disease burden 



Health and retirement survey


Adjusted odds ratio


Confidence interval



This work was supported by the Intramural Research Program, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin DiseasesNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

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