Background. Unlike the widely used self rated health, the self rated mental health was found unsuitable as a proxy for mental illness. This paper analyses the relationships between the self ratings of physical health, mental health and overall health, and their association of with the objective indicators for physical and mental health.
Design and methods. The study is a secondary analysis of data from a nationwide representative sample of the non-institutionalized adult residents of Israel in 2003 that was collected via computer-assisted personal interview methods [n=4859].
Results. The self rated physical health and the self rated mental health were strongly related to each other yet the self rated mental health was not related to chronic physical conditions and the self rated physical health was not related to mental disorders. In a multiple logistic regression analysis, those with positive self rated mental health had 93 times the odds of reporting positive overall health whereas those with positive self rated physical health had 40 times the odds of reporting positive overall health.
Conclusions. The self rating of mental health presents a qualitatively different dimension from mental illness. The self rated mental health is two times more important than the self rated physical health in predicting the self rated overall health