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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Self-assessed health among Thai elderly

Fariha Haseen12*, Ramesh Adhikari23 and Kusol Soonthorndhada2

Author Affiliations

1 Health System and Infectious Diseases Division, ICDDR,B, GPO Box 128, Dhaka 1000, Bangladesh

2 Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University, Salaya, Phutthamonthon, Nakhon Pathom 73170, Thailand

3 Geography and Population Department, Mahendra Ratna Campus, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal

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BMC Geriatrics 2010, 10:30  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-10-30

Published: 28 May 2010

Abstract

Background

The ageing of the population is rapidly progressing in Thailand. Self-assessed health status can provide a holistic view of the health of the elderly. This study aims to identify the determinants of self-assessed health among older Thai people.

Methods

The data for this study were drawn from a national survey of older persons conducted in 2007. Stratified two-stage random sampling was used for data collection. The analysis was restricted to the population aged 60 and above. The study used univariate, bivariate, and multivariate analysis procedures to analyze the data. Bivariate analysis was used to identify the factors associated with self assessment of health status. After controlling for other variables, the variables were further examined using multivariate analysis (binary logistic regression) in order to identify the significant predictors of the likelihood of reporting poor health.

Results

Overall, 30,427 elderly people were interviewed in this study. More than half of the sampled respondents (53%) were aged 60-69 years and about one out of seven (13%) were aged 80 years or above. About three in five respondents (56%) reported that their health was either fair or very bad/bad. Logistic regression analysis found that age, education, marital status, working status, income, functional status, number of chronic diseases, and number of psychosocial symptoms are significant predictors in determining health status. Respondents who faced more difficulty in daily life were more likely to rate their health as poor compared to those who faced less such difficulty. For instance, respondents who could not perform 3 or more activities of daily living (ADLs) were 3.3 times more likely to assess their health as poor compared to those who could perform all the ADLs. Similarly, respondents who had 1, 2, or 3 or more chronic diseases were 1.8 times, 2.4 times, and 3.7 times, respectively, more likely to report their health as poor compared to those who had no chronic disease at all. Moreover, respondents who had 1-2, 3-4, or 5 or more psychosocial symptoms in the previous months were 1.6 times, 2.2 times, and 2.7 times, respectively, more likely to report poor health compared to those who did not have any psychosocial symptoms during the same period.

Conclusion

Self-assessed poor health is not uncommon among older people in Thailand. No single factor accounts for the self-assessed poor health. The study has found that chronic disease, functional status, and psychosocial symptoms are the strongest determinants of self-assessed poor health of elderly people living in Thailand. Therefore, health-related programs should focus on all the factors identified in this paper to improve the overall well-being of the ageing population of Thailand.