Siordia C, Nguyen HT

J Frailty Aging 2015;4:175-180

Publication date: December 1, 2015


Within the assessment of frailty, self-rated health (SRH) questions remain frequently used in survey research attempting to quantify a subjective and global measure of health. Studies have largely ignored the fact that SRH questions may differ in their ability to predict levels of difficulty with performing activities of daily living (ADLs)—a variance partially influenced by whether a comparative frame of reference in used in the SRH question.

Siorda et al. investigate if a Comparative-SRH (C-SRH) question (with response options ranging on an adjectival scale ranging from 0 to 3) and a Non-Comparative-SRH (NC-SRH) question (with an adjectival response scale from range 0 to 5) differ in their ability to predict level of difficulty in performing ADLs after accounting for demographic, psychosocial, and related health factors.

Only C-SRH has a statistically significant relationship with ADLs—where each increase in C-SRH (i.e., more positively self-rated health) is associated with a decrease in ADL level of difficult. Using a comparative frame of reference in SRH questions may have important implications when attempting to understand the statistical relationship between self-rated global health and physical function in the assessment of frailty in older adults.

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