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Poorer self assessed health in a prospective study of men with screen detected abdominal aortic aneurysm: a predictor or a consequence of screening outcome?
  1. Theresa M Marteau1,
  2. Lois G Kim2,
  3. Jane Upton3,
  4. Simon G Thompson2,
  5. Alan P Scott4,*
  1. 1Health Psychology Section (Guy’s), Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychology, King’s College London, UK
  2. 2MRC Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge, UK
  3. 3Research Centre for Health Studies, Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, UK
  4. 4St Richards Hospital, Chichester, West Sussex, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor T M Marteau
 Health Psychology Section (Guy’s), 5th Floor Thomas Guy House, London Bridge, London SE1 9RT, UK;


Study objectives: To assess the extent to which poorer self assessed health in men in whom an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is detected at screening is a consequence or a predictor of screening outcome.

Design: Prospective study.

Setting: Community based screening.

Participants: 23 654 men who attended for AAA screening as part of the UK multicentre aneurysm screening study completed a measure of self assessed health before screening. A total of 1156 had an aneurysm detected. A sub-sample of screened men (571 with an aneurysm and 609 with a normal aorta) also completed the measure of self assessed health six weeks after screening.

Main results: Men in whom an aneurysm was detected at screening perceived their health to be poorer before screening than those with a normal aorta. Adjusting for risk factors for AAA made no difference to this result: self assessed health remained a strong predictor of having an aneurysm (odds ratio 1.7 comparing the extreme quartiles of self assessed health, 95% confidence intervals: 1.4 to 2.0). Men with an aneurysm also perceived their health to be poorer after screening had detected their aneurysms, but only to an extent in line with their pre-screening perceptions.

Conclusions: Self assessed health seems to predict having an aortic aneurysm, independently of known risk factors. This emphasises the importance of assessing baseline perceptions of health to prevent erroneously inferring that poorer self assessed health in those who screen positive is a consequence as compared with a predictor of screening outcome.

  • MASS, multicentre aneurysm screening study
  • AAA, abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • BP, blood pressure
  • self assessed health
  • screening
  • abdominal aortic aneurysm

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  • * On behalf of the Multicentre Aneurysm Screening Study Group.

  • Funding: the MASS trial was funded by the Medical Research Council (GP533930).

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.

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