Self-Reported Health among Foreign-Born Elderly: Predictive Factors and Objective Comparisons

Ann D. Bagchi, Rutgers University

This study compares self-reported health between foreign-born and native elders (aged 65 and older) using the adult sample of the 2001 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). This data source provides a unique opportunity to address questions of the role acculturation plays in immigrant health ratings. Not only do the files contain information on acculturation (e.g., English ability and time spent in the U.S.), they identify immigrants by nativity (naturalized versus non-citizen). The latter variable allows for within group comparisons across the immigrant elderly population. Inclusion of objective measures of health (e.g., smoking history, doctor's visits, presence and number of health conditions) permit evaluation of the accuracy in self-reports. Using logistic regression, the study suggests that acculturation plays an important role in influencing immigrants' reported health. However, objective indicators suggest that these reports do not merely reflect somatization of stressors but, rather, reflect true underlying health status.

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Presented in Poster Session 4: Aging