Background
Most health valuation studies assume that individuals’ health valuations do not depend on social comparisons. However, there is some evidence that this assumption is not satisfied in practice. This paper tests whether self-rated health by means of a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) is related to how one perceives the health of one’s contemporaries, while accounting for one’s health as classified by the EQ-5D classification system.
Methods
In a large sample (n = 1500), representative of the general public, we use a VAS to rate respondents’ own health and their assessment of their contemporaries’ health. In addition, we directly ask them whether they perceive their health to be better, the same, or worse than their contemporaries, and we measure their own health according to the EQ-5D-5 L.
Results
We find a positive relationship between own health rating and contemporaries’ health rating, after controlling for the respondents’ own health as classified according to the EQ-5D. Furthermore, we observe a discrepancy between relative health vis-à-vis age peers as measured by an ordinal comparison and relative health as measured by a VAS. Finally, respondents, especially women, tended to overestimate the health of other people of their age.
Conclusions
We provide evidence that people’s own health rating is related to the perception of health of contemporaries. Our results indicate that knowledge about a respondent’s perception of others’ health is useful in explaining health state valuations.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Quality-adjusted life year, Self-rated health, Social comparison, Visual analogue scale
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12955-018-0978-8, hdl.handle.net/1765/109504
Journal Health and Quality of Life Outcomes
Citation
Attema, A.E, Brouwer, W.B.F, & Pinto-Prades, J.L. (2018). Peer effects in health valuation: The relation between rating of contemporaries' health and own health. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 16(1). doi:10.1186/s12955-018-0978-8