Somatic multimorbidity and self-rated health in the older population

H. Galenkamp, A.W. Braam, M. Huisman, D.J.H. Deeg

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives. Chronic diseases are important predictors of self-rated health (SRH). This study investigated whether multimorbidity has a synergistic or cumulative impact on SRH. Moderation by gender and age was examined. Methods. Data originated from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (N = 2,046, aged 57-98 years). We assessed the presence of lung disease, cardiac disease, peripheral atherosclerosis, stroke, diabetes mellitus, arthritis, and cancer. SRH was measured with the question "How is your health in general?" including 5 response categories. Generalized ordered probit models were applied; possible synergism was examined by testing for nonlinearity of the association. Results. The association between multimorbidity and SRH was nonlinear in that the effect of having a single disease was larger than the added effects of co-occurring diseases. However, from the second disease onward, each additional co-occurring disease caused cumulative declines in SRH. Only in the oldest old (85+), the impact of a single disease was similar to that of co-occurring diseases. Results were similar for men and women. Discussion. Our findings help to improve understanding of the impact multimorbidity has on SRH: Having a single disease increases the chance of poor health more than each co-occurring disease, indicating some overlap between diseases or adaptation to declining health. © The Author 2011.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-386
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology. Series B : Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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