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Self rated health and mortality: a long term prospective study in eastern Finland
  1. S Heistaroa,
  2. P Jousilahtia,
  3. E Lahelmab,
  4. E Vartiainena,
  5. P Puskaa
  1. aNational Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland, bUniversity of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Dr Heistaro, National Public Health Institute, Department of Health and Disability, Mannerheimintie 166, 00300 Helsinki, Finland (sami.heistaro{at}


STUDY OBJECTIVE To assess the relation between self rated health and mortality over a period of 23 years, taking into account medical history, cardiovascular risk factors, and education at the beginning of the follow up.

DESIGN A cohort of random population samples. The baseline studies included a self administered questionnaire and a health examination. Mortality data were collected from the national mortality register using personal identification numbers.

SETTING The provinces of North Karelia and Kuopio in eastern Finland.

PARTICIPANTS Random samples of working age people (n=21 302) from the population register.

MAIN RESULTS For self rated health, the age adjusted poor to good relative risk for all cause mortality was 2.36 (95% confidence intervals 2.10, 2.64) for men and 1.90 (1.63, 2.22) for women, and for cardiovascular mortality 2.29 (1.96, 2.68) for men and 2.34 (1.84, 2.96) for women. Adjusted for selected potentially fatal diseases from the subjects' medical histories, cardiovascular disease risk factors, and education, the corresponding relative risks for all cause mortality were 1.66 (1.47, 1.88) for men and 1.50 (1.26, 1.78) for women, and for cardiovascular mortality 1.54 (1.29, 1.82) for men and 1.63 (1.26, 2.10) for women. The association between self rated health and mortality attributable to external causes was fairly strong.

CONCLUSIONS Poor self rated health is a strong predictor of mortality, and the association is only partly explained by medical history, cardiovascular disease risk factors, and education.

  • self rated health
  • mortality
  • Finland

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  • Funding: none.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.