A growing body of studies shows that self-perceptions of health status are linked to the determination of help-seeking for health care. For help-seeking regarding health care self-care has been portrayed as the basic or primary level of health care. There is an affirmation that self-care contributes to the prevention of chronic illness and the maintenance of functional health. However, little is known about the impacts of self-perceptions of health status on self-care behavior. The purposes of the present study were to identify the range of self-care coping strategies adopted by an elderly population to deal with functional status limitations, and to explore the influences of self-perceptions of health status on various self-care behaviors. The data were drawn from the National Survey of Self-Care and Aging: Baseline, 1990-1991. The survey included a national probability sample of 3,485 noninstitutionalized Medicare beneficiaries. A conceptual model had been formulated to explore the relation between self-perceptions of health status and self-care behaviors (i.e., changes in behavior, changes in environment, use of special devices, use of over the counter medications and doing nothing), controlling demographic characteristics, socioeconomic resources, and decrements in functional status. Stepwise multiple regression and logistic regression analyses were preformed to examine the influences of self-perceptions of health status on self-care coping strategies. The findings show that a large proportion of respondents does engage in some types of self-care activities to deal with their everyday chronic conditions. Only a small proportion of the elderly opts for the self-care of ”doing nothing” (8.2%). Self-perceptions of health status were positively related to changes-in-behavior self-care. And respondents who perceived poor health status were more likely to use non-prescribed medications, compared with those who felt their health was good. These findings contribute to the understanding of the benefits of positive health perceptions by showing that they are connected to some self-care behaviors that are linked to health.
- self-perceptions of health
- the aged