Healthy skepticism

James E. Rohrer, Tyrone F. Borders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective. To investigate the relationship between medical skepticism and overall self-rated health and to identify disparities in health for vulnerable subgroups among the elderly. Design. A cross-sectional telephone survey involving multiple callbacks. Independent variables included three measures of medical skepticism and disparities variables (low income, low education, race/ethnicity, gender, rural residence) along with several control variables (body weight, marital status, employment, insurance coverage, number of medical visits). Setting. West Texas, a sparsely populated 108-county region. Participants. Five thousand six persons aged 65 and over. Main Results. Multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that medical skepticism (believing that one can overcome illnesses without the help of a medical professional) was independently related to better self-rated overall health. Disparities in health were found for income, race/ethnicity, and low education but not for residents of rural or frontier areas (vs. urban residents). Conclusions. Belief in one's own ability to manage most illnesses may or may not be causally related to better health. However, the association is promising and deserves further investigation. Programs promoting self-care among groups facing health disparities should be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1234-1237
Number of pages4
JournalPreventive Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This manuscript was supported, in part, by grant No. 90AM2378 from the Administration on Aging, Department of Health and Human Services. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration on Aging Policy.


  • Community health
  • Disparities
  • Medical skepticism
  • Self-rated health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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