Black and White Differences in Self-Rated HealthBlacks and whites respond differently. Researchers asked 2,729 adults (ages 70 to 79) about their rating of their overall health, and then gave them a clinical examination and survey about their health. White study participants were 3.8 times as likely to rate their health as positive compared to blacks in the same clinical group.
What's Going On Here?There are really two possible explanations, and they both involve culture. One explanation is that the expectation of health is different for blacks and whites. In other words, what's considered "good health" for white people in the study has a lower standard than "good health" for black people. Another possible explanation is that some of the clinical tests (like physical functioning) are subjective and don't measure the same thing in black and white culture.
What Does It All Mean?That's hard to say. This does mean that something interesting is going on with the perception of health and aging. Up to now, race hasn't been a very big factor in that discussion. You may wonder why all of this is important. It is because other studies show that having a positive outlook on aging can add up to 7.5 years to your life. This difference is larger than the difference in life expectancy between blacks and whites (4 to 5 years). Perhaps some of that difference could be explained by these changes in perception of health? Must Reads:
Source(s): Spencer SM, et al. Racial differences in self-rated health at similar levels of physical functioning: An examination of health pessimism in the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study. J Gerontol: Social Sciences 64(1), 2009.
Spencer SM, et al. Racial differences in self-rated health at similar levels of physical functioning: An examination of health pessimism in the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study. J Gerontol: Social Sciences 64(1), 2009.