Studies of the Value Placed on Health

by John E. Ware, JoAnne Young


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Survey instruments requiring rating and ranking tasks were administered to respondents in five populations (N=2058) to study the value placed on health. Correlations among ratings confirmed groups of items hypothesized to measure values placed on physical, mental, and social health and identified a fourth dimension pertaining to value of health behavior. Studies based on ranking tasks yielded a method for estimating the value of health in relation to other personal values (e.g., accomplishment, exciting life) and identified three very general dimensions of value orientation. Ranks assigned to health and other personal values were less reliable for respondents from general populations than university students. Despite limited measurement precision, noteworthy differences in health values were observed among the five populations and between sociodemographic groups within populations. Health tended to be valued more by women, and by older, less educated, and poorer respondents.

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