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Semantics bias in cross-national comparative analyses: Is it good or bad to have "fair" health?
Univ Copenhagen, Dept Publ Hlth, POB 2099, Copenhagen, Denmark..
Riga Stradins Univ, Dept Publ Hlth & Epidemiol, Riga, Latvia..
ISPA, William James Ctr Res, Lisbon, Portugal..
Inst Mother & Child Hlth, Kasprzaka 17a Str, Warsaw, Poland..
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2016 (English)In: Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, ISSN 1477-7525, E-ISSN 1477-7525, Vol. 14, 70Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
Abstract [en]

The Health Behavior in School-aged Children is a cross-national study collecting data on social and health indicators on adolescents in 43 countries. The study provides comparable data on health behaviors and health outcomes through the use of a common protocol, which have been a back bone of the study sine its initiation in 1983. Recent years, researchers within the study have noticed a questionable comparability on the widely used item on self-rated health. One of the four response categories to the item "Would you say your health is....?" showed particular variation, as the response category "Fair" varied from 20 % in Latvia and Moldova to 3-4 % in Bulgaria and Macedonia. A qualitative mini-survey of the back-translations showed that the response category "Fair" had a negative slant in 25 countries, a positive slant in 10 countries and was considered neutral in 9 countries. This finding indicates that there are what may be called semantic issues affecting comparability in international studies, since the same original word (in an English original) is interpreted differently across countries and cultures. The paper test and discuss a few possible explanations to this, however, only leaving to future studies to hold a cautious approach to international comparisons if working with the self-rated health item with four response categories.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 14, 70
Keyword [en]
Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC), International comparison, Self-rated health, Measurement variance, Translation
National Category
Health Sciences
Research subject
Public Health Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-42621DOI: 10.1186/s12955-016-0469-8ISI: 000375804600004OAI: diva2:933232
Available from: 2016-06-03 Created: 2016-06-03 Last updated: 2016-06-03Bibliographically approved

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Hagquist, Curt
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