Gafsa, Tunisia – In recent decades, several global health organizations have focused on the generic instruments for measuring physical and mental health to assess social heterogeneity in self-reported health status and building broad coalitions around a measure of population health. The measurement of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) seems to be necessary since it monitors the population health status over time to compare the impact of health conditions of individuals and identify differences in health status between women and men and between social classes.
The study, “Health-Related Quality of Life Measures: Evidence from Tunisian Population Using the SF-12 Health Survey,” published in Value in Health Regional Issues (September/October 2015, Volume 7), explores the reporting differences related to the sociodemographic characteristics affecting different health status indicators to assess their impact on the measurement of self-reported health status among Tunisian population using the Tunisian version of the SF-12 health survey. The SF-12 questionnaire was administered to a random sample of individuals (N=3, 864) aged 18 years and over. The relevant data were collected using a standard forms approved by the National Institute for Public Health (NIPH) in 2012.
The 12-item Short Form Health Survey (SF-12) is one of the most widely used screening devices for measuring physical, mental and social well-being to assess HRQoL “Known subgroups” comparison showed that the SF-12 discriminated well between the Tunisian population on the basis of sex, age, education and socioeconomic status, and providing evidence of construct validity. This practice showed that the SF-12 is a reliable and valid measure of HRQoL among Tunisian population, and suggests its potential for measuring HRQOL in large-scale studies, specifically when overall physical and mental health are the outcomes of interest.
The results suggest the existence of reporting differences related to the sociodemographic characteristics affecting the health indicators. For a given latent health, women and oldest people are more likely to report physical activity limitations and chronic diseases. Mental health problems are over-reported by divorced people and under-reported by the oldest people. In addition, clerks, farmers and retired as well as employees and homemakers in the top of the social hierarchy more often report physical activity limitations. Finally, highly educated and socially advantaged people more often report social activities limitations due to the problems of physical and mental health.
“This study highlights the existence of reporting differences related to the sociodemographic characteristics affecting the health indicators,” says Moheddine Younsi, PhD, lead author, Assistant Professor in Economics at the University of Gafsa, Tunisia, and Member of the Working Group on “Health Inequalities” at the Research Unit in Applied Health Economics. “Among these indicators, the statement of physical activity limitations, social activity limitations due to physical and mental health problems from suffer many biases, including bias of pessimism linked to educational status, household income and social status. These indicators that represent various dimensions of health seem to be a good measurement tool for social inequalities in health and they can advantageously be used according to the objectives of the analysis and raised issues. To conclude, if this study can constitute an opening towards others research being connected there, or if the repetition of this study later on after modification of one or several variables, allows us to examine the impact of the possible factors of confusion on the relations between the socioeconomic status and the individual health.”