Subjective appraisals of physical and emotional health: examining the Meikirch model in rural and urban communities across the United States
Middle-aged and older adults may experience complex and multimorbid chronic health and mental health problems. The present definition of health outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO), however, as well as Rowe and Kahn’s criteria for “successful aging,” does not apply well to individuals experiencing health limitations. Thus, a more comprehensive, dynamic, and multi-faceted model of health must be developed, and the interplay between biology, individual responsibility, psychosocial constructs, and context must be considered. The present study utilizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data with an ecological, multi-grounded health framework called the Meikirch Model (Bircher, 2005). This study had three overarching aims: (1) identify risk and protective factors that facilitate middle and late-life health using the Meikirch Model, (2) ascertain aging health discrepancies in rural and urban areas and across the geographic regions of the United States (US), and (3) detect health outcome differences across three demarcated age groups (middle-aged adults, young-old adults, and old-old adults). Ultimately, by determining a multi-dimensional picture of health, considering both age and environment, one can better evaluate and address health disparities across the US and promote related health improvements and objectives.