Self-Rated Current and Future Health Independently Predict Subsequent Mortality in an Aging Population

Previous studies have shown that self-assessment of future health is a robust predictor of mortality in older adults. This study examines the relationship between 10-year mortality and three self-rated health measures in an aging cohort—current health, health one year in the future and a combined measure of current and future health. Data were collected from the Study of Physical Performance and Age-Related Changes in Sonomans, a community-based longitudinal examination of the epidemiology of aging, health and functioning. A total of 2,091 cohort members contributed 17,424 at-risk person-years over 10 years of follow-up. During the period of study, 557 cohort members died.

Key Findings:

  • Participants who reported their future health compared to their current health as worse or unknown had higher 10-year mortality rates than those who reported their future health as better or same.
  • Participants who reported current health as fair or poor and future health as worse or unknown compared to those who reported current health excellent or good and future health better or same had the highest 10-year mortality rates.

These results suggest that individuals have an overall sense of their current health that is extraordinarily predictive of their future health and subsequent survival.