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Self-rated health is one of the most widely used measures in gerontology, but it has not been evaluated systematically in older adults with schizophrenia (OAS). Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the utility of self-rated health in OAS by examining its influencing factors and contrasting these findings with a community comparison (CC) group.
We compared 249 community-dwelling persons aged 55 years and older having a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision, diagnosis of schizophrenia arising before age 45 years with a demographically similar group of 113 older adults in the general community. Using a modified version of Ocampo’s model of self-rated health, we identified 12 predictor variables within 5 dimensions.
There were no significant differences in self-health ratings between the OAS and the CC groups. Six of the 12 variables in the model significantly correlated with self-rated health in both groups. In linear regression analysis, three variables were significantly associated with self-rated health in both groups: Center for Epidemiological Studies−Depression score, number of physical disorders, and perception of self-health versus others. Self-rated health assessment was not associated with positive or negative symptoms or lack of awareness of mental illness.
There was a striking similarity in the factors influencing self-rated health in the two groups. The findings were consistent with results of previous gerontological studies that self-rated health reflects elements of psychiatric and physical well-being, as well as perceptions of their age peers. Our results support the use of self-rated health as a legitimate clinical and research measure in OAS.