Pain and Self-Assessed Health: Does the Association Vary across the Life Course?

Sara Rubin, University of California, San Francisco
Zachary Zimmer, University of California, San Francisco

The association between pain and self-assessed health among adults 20 and older is examined using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Models emphasize whether and how the association differs across age cohorts. Pain is measured two ways: as general and site-specific. Self-assessed health is categorized into groups ordered from fair/poor to excellent. Ordered logistic regressions reveal pain measured both ways has a robust inverse association on self-assessed health. The association remains robust after adjusting for more objective health conditions and indicators plus demographic, socioeconomic and social support characteristics. Models test age by pain interactions and confirm variation across cohorts. Middle-aged 40-59 displays the strongest association while self-assessed health is virtually unassociated among oldest-old. Findings suggest health and pain are in part socially constructed. Conclusions discuss the importance of considering pain as a health condition and implications for well-being across the life course.

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 Presented in Session P4. Children and Youth/Population and Aging