Cultural values: can they explain self-reported health?
SourceQuality of Life Research, 26, 6, (2017), pp. 1531-1539
Article / Letter to editor
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Quality of Life Research
SubjectRadboudumc 0: Other Research RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 17: Women's cancers RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
PURPOSE: Self-reported health (SRH) is a measure widely used in health research and population studies. Differences in SRH have been observed between countries and cultural values have been hypothesized to partly explain such differences. Cultural values can be operationalized by two cultural dimensions using the World Values Survey (WVS), namely the traditional/rational-secular and the survival/self-expression dimension. We investigate whether there is an association between the WVS cultural dimensions and SRH, both within and between countries. METHODS: Data from 51 countries in the WVS is used and combined with macroeconomic data from the Worldbank database. The association between SRH and the WVS cultural dimensions is tested within each of the 51 countries and multilevel mixed models are used to test differences between these countries. Socio-demographic and macroeconomic variables are used to correct for non-cultural variables related to SRH. RESULTS: Within countries, the survival/self-expression dimension was positively associated with SRH, while in most countries there was a negative association for the traditional/rational-secular dimension. Values range between 4 and 17% within countries. Further analyses show that the associations within countries and between countries are similar. Controlling for macroeconomic and socio-demographic factors did not change our results. DISCUSSION: The WVS cultural dimensions predict SRH within and between countries. Contrary to our expectations, traditional/rational-secular values were negatively associated with SRH. As SRH is associated with cultural values between countries, cultural values could be considered when interpreting SRH between countries.
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