Self-assessments of health and functional capacity among older adults

R. J. Angel, M. L. Frisco

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This article reviews the meaning and validity of the most commonly used self reported measures of general health and functional capacity used in survey research involving the elderly, and it compares two different ways of measuring functional capacity: Self-reported functional ability and performance-based measures. The literature supports the general validity of self reported general health, but it also reveals, at best, low to moderate correspondence between self assessed and performance-based measures of functional capacity, suggesting that self-reports and performance assessments each tap different domains of functioning. The research reviewed here provides evidence that self-assessments of global health levels and specific functional capacities are generally valid but that, like all self-reports, they are influenced by other factors including those related to culture and language that cannot be ignored. We conclude by affirming the utility of self-reports, but caution against assuming that their measurement properties are similar across culturally and socially distinct groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-135
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Mental Health and Aging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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