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Keywords:

  • ageing;
  • expectations;
  • health status;
  • Hungary;
  • longevity

Abstract

Background

Subjective expectations regarding future health are rarely studied, yet may have implications for medical decision making, health behaviour and health economic analysis.

Objective

To study people's subjective expectations regarding length and future quality of life in Hungary and compare these with previous findings from the Netherlands.

Methods

A cross-sectional survey was performed, using a questionnaire that was put on a highly frequented web journal during 1 day. Main socio-demographic variables and health status of the voluntary participants were registered using the EQ-5D questionnaire. People were asked about the age they expected to live and the health status they expected to have at ages 60, 70, 80 and 90, using the EQ-5D descriptive system. Responses were matched and compared to age- and gender-specific life expectancy data from the Hungarian National Statistics and to age- and gender-specific EQ-5D scores from a prior nationally representative survey in Hungary.

Results

In total, 9407 people were included in the analysis with mean age of 36.1 (SD 10.6) years, mainly qualified (degree 74.0%), employed (86.0%) men (67.1%). People overestimated their life expectancy (women, 1.6; men, 8.2 years) and expected a sharp deterioration in health at the age 70. Age, current health status, perception of a healthy lifestyle and kins' age at death were important explanatory factors for subjective expectations. Subjective life expectancy correlates strongly with expected future health status.

Conclusions

The striking similarities between two surveys from distinct nations suggest that people's (mis)expectations regarding length and future quality of life are probably rather generalizable between jurisdictions within Europe.