Intended for healthcare professionals


Self reported health and mortality: ecological analysis based on electoral wards across the United Kingdom

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 20 October 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:938
  1. Dermot O'Reilly (, senior lecturer1,
  2. Michael Rosato, research associate1,
  3. Chris Patterson1
  1. reader in medical statistics
  2. 1Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast BT12 6BJ
  1. Correspondence to: D O'Reilly
  • Accepted 1 August 2005


The question in the UK 1991 census that asked respondents whether they had a limiting long term illness proved useful for allocating health service funding.1 In the 2001 census a question on general health in the previous year was added to improve further the understanding of health needs and refine resource allocation. However, these indicators differ from objective measures of health in that they are also dependent on the perception of, and propensity to report, health problems. We explore the relation between the self reported responses to the two census questions cited above and mortality across the UK regions.

Methods and results

We derived three indicators of health for each of 10 604 UK electoral wards. Pooled all cause mortality rates for 2000-2 were generated for the English, Scottish, and Welsh wards. For Northern Ireland, where wards are smaller, we pooled data for 1998-2002. We derived two morbidity indicators from the self report health questions in the 2001 …

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