01.12.2008 | Original Investigation | Ausgabe 4/2008
Comparison of self-rated health in older people of St. Petersburg, Russia, and Tampere, Finland: how sensitive is SRH to cross-cultural factors?
European Journal of Ageing
- Merja Vuorisalmi, Ilkka Pietilä, Pertti Pohjolainen, Marja Jylhä
The aim of this study was to examine if there are differences in self-rated health (SRH) between older people in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Tampere, Finland. Two SRH measures were examined: a global measure without any frame of reference, and an age-comparative SRH with an explicitly elicited reference of age peers. The Tampere data, consisting of 737 60–89-year-old respondents, came from the Tampere Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TamELSA) in 1989. The St. Petersburg data, consisting of 1,168 people aged 60–89 years, came from the Planning of Medical and Social Services within Elder Care in St. Petersburg project (IPSE) in 2000. In both cities the data were collected by same structured questionnaire. Self-rated health, both global and comparative, was better in Tampere than in St. Petersburg when symptoms, chronic diseases and functional ability were adjusted for. Also, the association of chronic diseases with global SRH was different in St. Petersburg and Tampere. In addition to the real differences in the prevalence and seriousness of health problems, the differences in SRH may be caused by different ways of evaluating health. Our conclusion is that self-rated health is sensitive to cultural and social factors. Direct comparisons between different countries should be made with caution, and the differences in language use must be taken into account when interpreting the results.