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BACKGROUND: Self-rated health (SRH) have been widely used as a valid indicator of health status at the population and individual level. We aimed to investigate the distribution and correlates of global SRH and age-comparative SRH in elderly Chinese. METHODS: Survey of 57,693 men and 67,089 women aged 60 years and above was conducted in five rural (Gansu, Sichuan, Hunan, Henan, Zhejiang) and five urban areas (Heilongjiang, Shandong, Jiangsu, Guangxi, Hainan) in China between 2004 and 2008. Logistic regression models were used to calculate the relations of different factors with global SRH and age-comparative SRH. RESULTS: Among the participants, 38.33% reported their global SRH as good or excellent while 61.67% as fair or poor, and 17.70% reported better age-comparative SRH while 17.99% as worse. In the multivariate model, compared to women, men tended to report a good global SRH and better age-comparative SRH, urban residents tend to report good global SRH and better age-comparative SRH. The socioeconomic and health behavior factors that were associated with good global SRH and better age-comparative SRH (with varying strengths of association) included: high educational level, high household income, house ownership, quitting smoking by own choices, occasional and current alcohol drinking, overweight, and high physical activity level. The factors that were associated with poor global SRH and worse age-comparative SRH included: quitting smoking by illness, former drinking, underweight, and weight lost ≥2.5 kg in the previous year. CONCLUSIONS: We found a moderate level of good global SRH and a low level of better age-comparative SRH among elderly Chinese. We identified a number of demographic, socioeconomic and health behavior factors that were related to SRH measures. Our study emphasizes the importance of incorporating both global and age-comparative SRH measures in future studies, and considering gender inequalities and urban/rural disparity, as well as socioeconomic status and health behaviors as important modifiers of health.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Geriatr

Publication Date





Chinese population, Correlates, Distribution, Self-rated health