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Utility of Health Data from Social Surveys: Is There a Gold Standard for Measuring Morbidity?

Kenneth F. Ferraro and Melissa M. Farmer
American Sociological Review
Vol. 64, No. 2 (Apr., 1999), pp. 303-315
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2657534
Page Count: 13
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Utility of Health Data from Social Surveys: Is There a Gold Standard for Measuring Morbidity?
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Abstract

Most sociological and epidemiological studies of health status in adulthood rely on reports of morbidity from respondents to social surveys. This study compares self-reported morbidity with indicators of morbidity from physicians' evaluations and examines the predictive validity of each indicator on self-assessed health and mortality in adulthood. Special attention is given to differences in the measures between white and African American adults. Adults from a large national survey received a detailed medical examination by a physician; they also were asked about the presence of 36 health conditions. Results indicate that self-reported morbidity is equal or superior to physician-evaluated morbidity in a prognostic sense. Both types of morbidity predict self-assessed health for white respondents, but physician-evaluated morbidity is not related to either self-assessed health or mortality for African American respondents.

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