Longitudinal Predictors of Self-Rated Health and Mortality in Older Adults
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Longitudinal Predictors of Self-Rated Health and Mortality in Older Adults

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  • Alternative Title:
    Prev Chronic Dis
  • Description:

    Few studies have compared the effects of demographic, cognitive, and behavioral factors of health and mortality longitudinally. We examined predictors of self-rated health and mortality at 3 points, each 2 years apart, over 4 years.


    We used data from the 2006 wave of the Health and Retirement Study and health and mortality indicators from 2006, 2008, and 2010. We analyzed data from 17,930 adults (aged 50–104 y) to examine predictors of self-rated health and data from a subgroup of 1,171 adults who died from 2006 through 2010 to examine predictors of mortality.


    Time 1 depression was the strongest predictor of self-rated health at all points, independent of age and education. Education, mild activities, body mass index, delayed word recall, and smoking were all associated with self-rated health at each point and predicted mortality. Delayed word recall mediated the relationships of mild activity with health and mortality. Bidirectional mediation was found for the effects of mild activity and depression on health.


    Medical professionals should consider screening for depression and memory difficulties in addition to conducting medical assessments. These assessments could lead to more effective biopsychosocial interventions to help older adults manage risks for mortality.

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