The Necessity, Feasibility, and Utility of Using the Minimum European Health Module to Measure Generic Health

Patrick Lazarevic , Vienna Institute of Demography
Marc Luy, Vienna Institute of Demography
Martina Brandt, TU Dortmund University

Health is a fundamental aspect of many scientific disciplines and its definition and measurement is the analytical core of many empirical studies. Comprehensive measures of health, however, are typically precluded in survey research due to financial and temporal restrictions. On the other hand, self-rated health (SRH) as a single indicator of generic health exhibits a lack of measurement invariance by age and is biased due to non-health influences. The three-item Minimum European Health Module (MEHM) complements SRH with global questions on chronic health conditions and health-related activity limitations and can thus be seen as a compromise between these two approaches. Using data from the German Ageing Survey (2008 & 2014; n = 12,037), we investigated the feasibility to combine the MEHM into a generic health indicator and judged its utility in comparison to SRH as a benchmark. Additionally, we explored the option of an extended version of the MEHM by adding information on multimorbidity and the presence and intensity of chronic pain. Our analyses showed that both versions of the MEHM had a good internal consistency and each represented a single latent variable that can be computed using generalized structural equation modeling. The utility of these indicators showed great promise as it significantly reduced age-specific reporting behavior and some non-health biases that affected SRH. To further attenuate systematic response behavior, approach can be extended by priming the meaning of health in SRH and the use of MIMIC-modeling. Further analyses regarding their use to estimate healthy life expectancies are planned.

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 Presented in Session 28. Data and Measures. Session within the Project of Excellence of the Department of Statistical Sciences of Padova University