The need to find accurate and reliable indicators on which to base the planning, provision, and evaluation of health services gave impetus to the attempt to develop reliable and valid measures of the perceived health status of the consumers of health care. Subjective measures can provide an important complement to traditional statistics by giving direct access to the personal feelings of discomfort or distress that influence the use of health services. Such measures also give meaningful criteria for the evaluation of the efficacy of such services. Self assessments of health obtained from surveys and interviews have consistently found age and sex differences in the tendency to report symptoms, ill-health, disability, visits to doctors, and sickness absence. Many of these data, however, may have been misleading in using instruments of unknown or uncertain validity and reliability. Nevertheless, subjective assessments of health have been shown to have value and to add a dimension to objective measurements of health. They have been considered to be one of the better predictors of mortality and of adjustment to major episodes of illness.
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