Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 399–420 | Cite as

Socioeconomic Differences in Self-Assessed Health in a Chronically Ill Population: The Role of Different Health Aspects

  • J. G. Simon
  • H. van de Mheen
  • J. B. W. van der Meer
  • J. P. Mackenbach


We investigated the role that different health aspects play in the explanation of socioeconomic differences in self-assessed health. Socioeconomic differences in self-assessed health were investigated in relation to chronic disease, functional limitations, psychosomatic symptoms, and perceived discomfort/distress. In multiple logistic regression analyses, for three cutoff points of self-assessed health, significant socioeconomic differences in self-assessed health could be observed after adjusting for age and gender. After separate adjustment for each of the four health aspects, the analyses showed that for a health assessment as less-than-good and less-than-fair, psychosomatic symptoms were the most powerful explanatory factor. Perceived discomfort/distress proved to be the most powerful factor for a poor health assessment. We found that socioeconomic differences in self-assessed health could, to a large extent (72–80%), be explained through socioeconomic differences in the prevalence of the four types of health problems included in the study. For all cutoff points, objective health aspects accounted for a relatively small part of the socioeconomic variability in self-assessed health. More subjective aspects of health accounted for more of the variability.

self-assessed health socioeconomic differences chronic disease functional limitations psychosomatic symptoms perceived discomfort/distress 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. G. Simon
    • 1
  • H. van de Mheen
    • 2
  • J. B. W. van der Meer
    • 2
  • J. P. Mackenbach
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Public HealthErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Public HealthErasmus University RotterdamThe Netherlands

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