Faculty Publications


Complete health: Prevalence and predictors among U.S. Adults in 1995

Document Type



Complete Health, Mental Health, Physical Health, Prevention Research, Well-Being

Journal/Book/Conference Title

American Journal of Health Promotion





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Purpose. To operationalize, estimate the prevalence, and ascertain the epidemiology of complete health. Design. Cross-sectional analyses of self-reported survey data collected via a telephone interview and a self-administered questionnaire. Setting. Households in the 48 contiguous states in the United States in 1995. Subjects. Random-digit dialing sample of 3032 adults between the ages of 25 and 74, with a response rate of 61%. Measures. Physical illness and health were measured with a total of 37 items - a checklist of 29 chronic health conditions, a six-item scale of limitations of daily living, and a single item for perceived current health and for perceived 5-year change in energy. Mental illness and health were measured with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form diagnostic scale of major depression, panic, and generalized anxiety disorders and three established multi-item scales of subjective well-being (emotional, psychological, and social well-being). Completely healthy adults have high levels of physical and mental health and low levels of physical and mental illnesses; completely unhealthy adults have high levels of physical and mental illnesses and low levels of physical and mental health. Incompletely healthy adults consisted of two groups: one group is physically healthy (high physical health and low physical illness) and mentally unhealthy, and the second group is mentally healthy (high mental health and low mental illness) and physically unhealthy. Results. Nineteen percent of adults were completely healthy, 18.8% were completely unhealthy, and 62.2% had a version of incomplete health. Compared with completely unhealthy adults, completely healthy adults are likely to be young (25-34 years of age) or old (55-64 and 65-74 years), are married, are male, are college educated, and have higher household incomes. Conclusions. Operationalizing complete health highlights objectives for increasing the prevalence of complete health, and reducing the prevalence of complete ill-health and incomplete health.

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