Self-reported health is a widely used epidemiologic measure, however, the factors that predict self-reported health among community-dwelling older adults (≥65 years), especially those with multimorbidity (≥2 chronic conditions), are poorly understood. Further, it is not known why some older adults self-report their health positively despite the presence of high levels of multimorbidity, a phenomenon known as the well-being paradox. The objectives of this study were to: 1) examine the factors that moderate or mediate the relationship between multimorbidity and self-reported health; 2) identify the factors that predict high self-reported health; and 3) determine whether these same factors predict high self-reported health among those with high levels of multimorbidity to better understand the well-being paradox.
A cross-sectional analysis of baseline data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging was completed (
n= 21,503). Bivariate stratified analyses were used to explore whether each factor moderated or mediated the relationship between multimorbidity and self-reported health. Logistic regression was used to determine the factors that predict high self-reported health in the general population of community-dwelling older adults and those displaying the well-being paradox. Results
None of the factors explored in this study moderated or mediated the relationship between multimorbidity and self-reported health, yet all were independently associated with self-reported health. The ‘top five’ factors predicting high self-reported health in the general older adult population were: lower level of multimorbidity (odds ratio [OR] 0.75, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.74-0.76), female sex (OR 0.62, CI 0.57-0.68), higher Life Space Index score (OR 1.01, CI 1.01-1.01), higher functional resilience (OR 1.16, CI 1.14-1.19), and higher psychological resilience (OR 1.26, CI 1.23-1.29). These same ‘top five’ factors predicted high self-reported health among the subset of this population with the well-being paradox.
The factors that predict high self-reported health in the general population of older adults are the same for the subset of this population with the well-being paradox. A number of these factors are potentially modifiable and can be the target of future interventions to improve the self-reported health of this population.