Table 1A

 Variables used to assess self rated health in the Whitehall II data

*Not self reported.
Early life factors and family history
Height*Height measured at clinical screening at phase 1.
Father’s social classAssessed using registrar general’s social class classification: six hierarchical categories: 1(high) to 6 (low).
Vital status of parentsA three point scale assessing whether both parents alive (1), 1 alive or both dead (3).
Chronic diseases in parentsA six point scale assessing whether either parent suffered from angina, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes; 0 = no disease and 5 = all five diseases.
Chronic diseases in siblingsA six point scale assessing any sibling suffered from angina, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes; 0 = no disease and 5 = all five diseases.
Material difficultiesScore from 0–8, composed of two five point scales assessing the extent to which person could afford food and clothing for the family and had difficulty in paying bills; 0 = not difficult and 8 = very difficult.
EducationA three point scale assessing education: 1 =  university, 2 = secondary, 3 = primary level of education.
Employment gradeA six point scale representing occupational position in the British civil service; 1(high) to 6 (low).
Marital statusFour point scale: 1 = married/cohabiting, 2 = single, 3 = divorced/separated and 4 = widowed.
Psychosocial factors
Health locus of controlView on whether there were things one could do to reduce chance of heart attack: 1 = definitely, 2 = might, 3 = little one can do.
Affect balance scaleThe 10 items of the Bradburn affect balance scale were presented as four point scales (0–3), summed up to a scale ranging from −15 to +15; high scores reflect high positive affect.32
Hostility scoreThe Cook-Medley hostility scale, high scores reflect high hostility.41
Satisfaction with life scaleFive item scale, scores range from 0–30; high scores indicate greater life satisfaction.42
Social isolationHigh scores on the scale (0–6) reflect greater social isolation; assessing lack of people to share with, no relatives, friends or work colleagues seen, and no social or religious belonging.
Network scaleNetwork scale (0–28) assesses the frequency and the number of friends, relatives and work colleagues seen; and participation in social and religious groups; high scores indicate bigger network.
Life eventsNumber of life events (0–8) in the past year: serious illness/injury, death of a close relative/friend, serious illness/injury of a close person, financial difficulty, divorce/separation, other marital/family problem, mugging/robbery, change of job/residence.
Upset with life eventsSum of four point scales (0–3) assessing the impact of the each life event (total 0–24); high scores reflect greater emotional impact.
Job demandKarasek measure of psychological job demands; high scores reflect high demand.43
Decision latitudeKarasek measure: 15 items dealing with decision authority and skill discretion, combined into an index of decision latitude (or job control); high scores reflect greater control.39
Work satisfactionA one item 4-point measure from the Karasek questionnaire asking respondents to judge how satisfied they were with their job overall; high scores reflect greater dissatisfaction.39
Health behaviour
SmokingFive point composite index representing non/former/light/medium/heavy smoker; 1 =  non-smoker and 5 = heavy smoker.
Alcohol consumptionComposite index assessing the units of alcohol consumed in the past week.
Level of physical activityComposed of a three point scale assessing low/medium or high level of physical activity; 1 = high and 3 = low level.
Frequency of eating fresh fruit and vegetablesFrequency of eating fresh fruit and vegetables on an eight point scale; 1 = consumed 2 or more times a day and 8 = seldom or never consumed.
Sickness absenceSelf reported number of sick days in the past year.
Longstanding illnessResponse to a question asking the person if they had a longstanding illness: 0 = no and 1 = yes.
Number of longstanding illnessesThe sum of the number of longstanding illnesses indicated by particpants; 0 = no illness.
Number of recurring health problemsNumber of health problems out of a list of 13: bronchitis, arthritis, sciatica, persistent skin trouble, asthma, hay fever, persistent stomach trouble, constipation, piles, persistent foot trouble, trouble with varicose veins, depression, persistent trouble with gums or mouth. 0 =  no problems and 13 =  all of them.
Symptom scoreNumber of symptoms in the last 14 days: phlegm, diarrhoea, indigestion, shortness of breath, dizziness, earache, swollen ankles, nervous/depressed, cold/flu, sore throat, sleep problems, pains in chest, backache, nausea/vomiting, tired, skin trouble, toothache. 0 =  no problems and 17 =  all of them.
Number of medicines used in the past 14 daysList, indicating the number of all prescribed drugs used by the participant in the past 14 days; 0—no medicines.
SleepFive categories of number of hours slept: 1 = <9; 2 = <8; 3 = <7; 4 = <6; 5 = <5.
Body mass index (BMI)*Weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in metres.
Physical illness indicatorComposite indicator of three doctor diagnosed illnesses (diabetes, heart trouble, hypertension) and respiratory illness measured by MRC chronic bronchitis questionnaire; 0 = no illness and 4 = all 4 illnesses.
Minor psychiatric morbidityMental health was assessed using the general health questionnaire; 0 = good mental health and 90 =  poor mental health.34