A new study reveals that people who rate their health as poor have an unhealthier lifestyle, are often in a poor state of health.
Researchers from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich demonstrated that self-rated health is also linked to the probability of survival or death over a long period of more than thirty years.
In the study, which was conducted in Switzerland, men who rated their health as "very poor" were 3.3 times more likely to die than men of the same age who rated their health as "excellent", and the risk of death was 1.9 times higher in women who rated their health as "very poor" than for those who rated it as "excellent".
The risk increased steadily from an optimistic to a pessimistic rating: people in "excellent" health had better chances of survival than those in "good" health, the latter better chances than those in a "fair" state of health, and so on.
"The steady increase in risk and the long time of over thirty years between the self-rating and the end of the observation period render it practically impossible for medical history or a dark foreboding to be main causes of the correlation observed," head of the study Matthias Bopp said.
Even taking education levels, marital status, tobacco-related strains, medical history, the use of medication, blood pressure and blood glucose into account, the correlation between self-rated health and mortality only weakened marginally.
The difference in the risk of death between the best and the worst rating was still 1:2.9 in men and 1:1.5 in women.
"Our results indicate that people who rate their state of health as excellent have attributes that improve and sustain their health," specialist in preventive medicine David Fah said.
"These might include a positive attitude, an optimistic outlook and a fundamental level of satisfaction with one's own life," he added.