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Health Serv Res. 1988 February; 22(6): 857–877.
PMCID: PMC1065479

Medical conditions, health status, and health services utilization.


Using data from the 1980 National Medical Care Utilization and Expenditure Survey (N = 11,530), four commonly used health status indicators are interpreted in terms of the underlying medical conditions they reflect. It is found that self-rated health status, role limitations, restricted activity days, and functional limitations measure similar conditions. These conditions tend to be chronic and severe; heart and cerebrovascular disease are especially associated with poor health as measured by all of the variables. Disability days is most likely to reflect acute, transitory morbidity. Practical suggestions for the appropriate use of the four variables are made. In addition, the conditions associated with the most ambulatory utilization of health services are identified. Among these conditions, those which are and are not measured adequately by the health status indicators are disclosed. It is concluded that the health status variables, either individually or as a group, do not measure many variations in health that are strongly related to utilization.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Ware JE, Jr, Brook RH, Davies AR, Lohr KN. Choosing measures of health status for individuals in general populations. Am J Public Health. 1981 Jun;71(6):620–625. [PubMed]
  • Hulka BS, Wheat JR. Patterns of utilization. The patient perspective. Med Care. 1985 May;23(5):438–460. [PubMed]
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  • Goldstein MS, Siegel JM, Boyer R. Predicting changes in perceived health status. Am J Public Health. 1984 Jun;74(6):611–614. [PubMed]

Articles from Health Services Research are provided here courtesy of Health Research & Educational Trust