It has been observed that some groups in society tend to report their health to be better than would be expected through more objective measures. The available evidence suggests that while variations in self-assessed measures of health may act as good proxies of mortality and morbidity in homogeneous populations, in some groups, such as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities of Australia, these subjective measures may provide a misleading picture. Useful insights into the formation of health perceptions can be drawn from a range of disciplines, in particular, from social comparison theories, models of illness behaviour, survey literature and linguistics. These theories and models help to provide an understanding of the different ways in which illness may be perceived, evaluated and acted upon by different kinds of people. Such considerations can have very direct implications for those planning and evaluating public health programs as well as those responsible for funding such programs.
Health Care Analysis (1999) 7 207-223 [10.1023/A:1009461114154]