Reporting biases in self-assessed physical and cognitive health status of older Europeans

Spitzer, Sonja ORCID: and Weber, Daniela (2019) Reporting biases in self-assessed physical and cognitive health status of older Europeans. PLOS ONE, 14 (10). e0223526. ISSN 1932-6203

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This paper explores which demographic characteristics substantially bias self-reported physical and cognitive health status of older Europeans. The analysis utilises micro-data for 19 European countries from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe to compare performance-tested outcomes of mobility and memory with their self-reported equivalents. Relative importance analysis based on multinomial logistic regressions shows that the bias in self-reported health is mostly due to reporting heterogeneities between countries and age groups, whereas gender contributes little to the discrepancy. Concordance of mobility and cognition measures is highly related; however, differences in reporting behaviour due to education and cultural background have a larger impact on self-assessed memory than on self-assessed mobility. Southern as well as Central and Eastern Europeans are much more likely to misreport their physical and cognitive abilities than Northern and Western Europeans. Overall, our results suggest that comparisons of self-reported health between countries and age groups are prone to significant biases, whereas comparisons between genders are credible for most European countries. These findings are crucial given that self-assessed data are often the only information available to researchers and policymakers when asking health-related questions.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The data underlying the results presented in the study are available from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe ( In particular, Wave 2 (10.6103/SHARE.w2.611), Wave 4 (10.6103/SHARE.w4.611), and Wave 5 (10.6103/SHARE.w5.611) are utilised. This project received funding from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research, and Economy in the framework of the Joint Programming Initiative “More Years, Better Lives – The Challenges and Opportunities of Demographic Change”. Furthermore, the research leading to these results received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC under Grant ERC2012-AdG 323947-Re-Ageing). IIASA has made funds available for publishing of this paper. IIASA encourages and actively supports its researchers to publish their research in journal articles or books that are made available for free to all users (gold open access). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. This paper uses data from SHARE Wave 2 (DOI: 10.6103/SHARE.w2.611), Wave 4 (DOI: 10.6103/SHARE.w4.611), and Wave 5 (DOI: 10.6103/SHARE.w5.611). The SHARE data collection has primarily been funded by the European Commission through FP5 (QLK6-CT-2001-00360), FP6 (SHARE-I3: RII-CT-2006-062193, COMPARE: CIT5-CT-2005-028857, SHARELIFE: CIT4-CT-2006-028812), and FP7 (SHARE-PREP: N°211909, SHARE-LEAP: N°227822, SHARE M4: N°261982). Additional funding from the German Ministry of Education and Research, the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, the U.S. National Institute on Aging (U01_AG09740-13S2, P01_AG005842, P01_AG08291, P30_AG12815, R21_AG025169, Y1-AG-4553-01, IAG_BSR06-11, OGHA_04-064, HHSN271201300071C) and from various national funding sources is gratefully acknowledged (see
Divisions: Departments > Sozioökonomie > Sozialpolitik > Demographie > Wittgenstein Centre
Version of the Document: Published
Depositing User: ePub Administrator
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2019 10:26
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2019 10:29
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