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By Mildred Blaxter

What's a `healthy' way of life? that is extra major: the social situations within which humans dwell, or way of life conduct corresponding to workout or smoking? well-being and existence is the 1st description of a giant and consultant survey of the British inhabitants asking simply these questions. It examines the findings, and considers concerns similar to measured health, declared wellbeing and fitness, mental prestige, lifestyles situations, health-related behaviour, attitudes and ideology. offering company facts of the significance of social conditions and styles of health-related behaviour, healthiness and existence is a crucial contribution to present debate, revealing the degrees of inequality in future health in Britain at the present time.

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Responses have also been shown to depend on the way in which questions are asked. The more specific and detailed the questions, the more disease is reported. An alternative method is to offer a check-list of diseases or syndromes, in order to indicate to people the level of ill health which they are expected to report. Such a check-list always stimulates reporting, sometimes to a degree which is not very useful. In the General Household Survey before 1977, about a quarter to a third of the population declared ‘chronic illness’, but when in the 1977 edition a check-list was introduced, 56 per cent of men and 70 per cent of women identified themselves as suffering from one or more of the conditions listed.

36 THE MEASUREMENT OF HEALTH 5. Finally, the analysis of lay concepts suggests that neither subjective nor objective accounts of health are, alone, sufficient. A biomedical definition of health in terms of disease, abnormality or malfunction is, of course, part of the lay concept of health, but individuals may misinterpret, misinform, or be ignorant of their biomedical condition. On the other hand, health is also a subjective state, and individuals have information about their symptoms and their feeling states which only they can give.

Among the four health indices being used here, the functional dimension is included in the index of disease and impairment. It must be borne in mind, throughout this analysis, that the dimension which is called ‘unfitness/fitness’ is defined only as physical fitness, and is restricted to the measures which were available. Presence/absence of disease and impairment If ‘fitness’ is considered as the biological dimension of health, the absence or presence of pathology may be seen as the medical 43 THE MEASUREMENT OF HEALTH dimension.

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