Despite the well-established association between self-rated health (SRH) and health, little is known about the potential psychobiological mechanisms responsible for such links and if these associations differ by age. The main goals of this study were to investigate the links between SRH and ambulatory blood pressure (ABP), if age moderated the risk, and the health behavior/affective mechanisms responsible for such links.
A total of 188 men and women (94 married couples; ages, 18–63 years) completed a standard measure of SRH and a 1-day ABP assessment. Multilevel models were run to examine whether SRH was associated with daily ABP and whether these links were moderated by age. The Monte Carlo method was used to construct confidence intervals for mediation analyses.
Results indicated that poor SRH was associated with higher ambulatory systolic blood pressure (SBP; b = 3.14, SE = 0.68, p < .001) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP; b = 1.34, SE = 0.43, p = .002) levels. Age also moderated the links between SRH and ambulatory SBP (b = 0.19, SE = 0.08, p = .011) and DBP (b = 0.14, SE = 0.05, p = .004), with links being stronger in relatively older individuals. However, only daily life negative affect significantly mediated the age by SRH interaction for both ambulatory SBP and DBP.
These results highlight the potential psychobiological mechanisms linking SRH to longer-term health outcomes. Such work can inform basic theory in the area as well as intervention approaches that target such pathways.