Open Access Research article

Association between self-rated health and mortality: 10 years follow-up to the Pró-Saúde cohort study

Joanna Miguez Nery Guimarães1*, Dóra Chor1, Guilherme Loureiro Werneck2, Marilia Sá Carvalho3, Claudia Medina Coeli4, Claudia S Lopes2 and Eduardo Faerstein2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology, National School of Public Health, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, R Leopoldo Bulhões 1480, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 21041-210, Brazil

2 Department of Epidemiology, Institute of Social Medicine, State University of Rio de Janeiro, R São Francisco Xavier 524, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 20550-900, Brazil

3 Scientific Computing Program - PROCC, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Av Brasil 4365, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 21045-900, Brazil

4 Institute of Public Health Studies, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Av Horácio Macedo S/N, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 21941-568, Brazil

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:676  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-676

Published: 20 August 2012



The association between self-rated health (SRH) and mortality is well documented in the literature, but studies on the subject among young adults in Latin America are rare, as are those evaluating this association using repeated SRH measures, beyond the baseline measurement. This study aims to evaluate the association between SRH evaluated at three data collection stages and mortality.


Cox regression models were used to examine the association between SRH (Very good, Good, Fair/Poor) varying over time and mortality, over a 10 year period, in a cohort of non-faculty civil servants at a public university in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Pró-Saúde Study, n = 4009, men = 44.4%).


About 40% of the population changed their self-rating over the course of follow-up. After adjustment for self-reported physician-diagnosed chronic diseases and other covariates, men who reported “Fair/Poor” SRH showed relative hazard of death of 2.13 (CI95% 1.03-4.40) and women, 3.43 (CI95% 1.23-9.59), as compared with those who reported “Very good” SRH.


In a population of young adults, our findings reinforce the role of SRH as a predictor of mortality, even controlling for objective measures of health.