A1 Journal article – refereed

Subjective and objective health predicting mortality and institutionalization: an 18-year population-based follow-up study among community-dwelling Finnish older adults

List of Authors: Viljanen Anna, Salminen Marika, Irjala Kerttu, Heikkilä Elisa, Isoaho Raimo, Kivelä Sirkka-Liisa, Korhonen Päivi, Vahlberg Tero, Viitanen Matti, Wuorela Maarit, Löppönen Minna, Viikari Laura

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd

Publication year: 2021

Journal: BMC Geriatrics

Journal name in source: BMC Geriatrics

Volume number: 21

Issue number: 1

ISSN: 1471-2318

eISSN: 1471-2318

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12877-021-02311-w

URL: https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-021-02311-w



Objective health measures, such as registered illnesses or frailty, predict mortality and institutionalization in older adults. Also, self-reported assessment of health by simple self-rated health (SRH) has been shown to predict mortality and institutionalization. The aim of this study was to assess the association of objective and subjective health with mortality and institutionalization in Finnish community-dwelling older adults.


In this prospective study with 10- and 18-year follow-ups, objective health was measured by registered illnesses and subjective health was evaluated by simple SRH, self-reported walking ability (400 m) and self-reported satisfaction in life. The participants were categorized into four groups according to their objective and subjective health: 1. subjectively and objectively healthy, 2. subjectively healthy and objectively unhealthy, 3. subjectively unhealthy and objectively healthy and 4. subjectively and objectively unhealthy. Cox regression model was used in the analyses. Death was used as a competing factor in the institutionalization analyses.


The mean age of the participants (n = 1259) was 73.5 years (range 64.0–100.0). During the 10- and 18-year follow-ups, 466 (37%) and 877 (70%) died, respectively. In the institutionalization analyses (n = 1106), 162 (15%) and 328 (30%) participants were institutionalized during the 10- and 18-year follow-ups, respectively. In both follow-ups, being subjectively and objectively unhealthy, compared to being subjectively and objectively healthy, was significantly associated with a higher risk of institutionalization in unadjusted models and with death both in unadjusted and adjusted models.


The categorization of objective and subjective health into four health groups was good at predicting the risk of death during 10- and 18-year follow-ups, and seemed to also predict the risk of institutionalization in the unadjusted models during both follow-ups. Poor subjective health had an additive effect on poor objective health in predicting mortality and could therefore be used as part of an older individual’s health evaluation when screening for future adverse outcomes.

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Last updated on 2022-20-01 at 14:52