Poor self-rated health (SRH) is linked to an increased risk of injury, future healthcare services utilization, and morbidity and mortality. This study aimed to identify correlates of a single-item measure of health in 8070 US Army personnel.
Responses were collected from the Army’s global assessment tool (GAT) 2.0, an online questionnaire that assesses physical and psychosocial health. SRH was measured by the item, “How do you consider your health?” (four response categories: “poor,” “fair,” “good,” and “excellent”). Ordinal logistic regression (OLR) was used to evaluate how various health and psychosocial factors contribute to Soldiers’ ratings of SRH. Unadjusted and adjusted cumulative odds ratios (ORs) are presented and discussed.
Most participants reported “good” health (57%), followed by “excellent” (24%), “fair” (17%), and “poor” (2%). Sleep quality (OR 2.48; 95% CI 2.34, 2.63) was the largest correlate of SRH, followed by obesity (OR 0.50; 95% CI 0.43, 0.58), emotional fitness (OR 1.68, 95% CI 1.56, 1.82), and Army physical fitness test (APFT) scores (OR 1.43; 95% CI 1.36, 1.51).
Single-item measures of self-reported health can cover a broad spectrum across physical and mental health. Among a large US Army sample, sleep quality was most strongly associated with SRH, followed by emotional fitness and APFT scores. In contrast, service-component and other sociodemographic characteristics had relatively small effects on general health. Military investigators and leaders who must rely on various subjective general health measures should interpret them as a combination of these factors.