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The question concerning longstanding illnesses aims for fact-like information, but it was found in the pre-testing that despite reading exact definitions, responding requires respondents' own interpretation of the nature of health problems. The interpretation is made especially in relation to the respondent's idea of longstanding and of illness and the context of the question, i.e. the Labour Force Survey.
In the open question respondents interpreted a longstanding illness to mean illnesses that are hampering everyday life, diagnosed and needing medical care. Lack of "feeling of illness" filtered out such health problems bothering the respondents that did not correspond to their image of "actual" health problems. An exact definition of a longstanding illness does not necessarily affect responding if the respondents do not consider their problems longstanding health problems. In addition, the context of asking, that is, the Labour Force Survey, had a distinct effect on the interpretation of illness. Many respondents filtered out their health problems based on that they did not affect how they managed in their job.
Interviewer (asks mode 2 question): "Respiratory disease?"
Respondent F1: "I have a kind of allergic habit, but I do not think it is an illness because it does not prevent me from doing anything. It did not occur to me when I thought that a longstanding illness is one that is diagnosed. Allergy tests have never shown me to have any allergy. My nose is just blocked. It has been examined and medication has been prescribed for it. I think it is rather a bother than an illness. It is not a disease but it is a nuisance."
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Interviewer (asks a list of illnesses question): "Musculoskeletal disorder related to arms or hands?"
Respondent M2: "Yes, my hands feel numb but I try to take care of it at a masseur. I have gone through all vertebra scans but it has not been diagnosed. I do not think it is an illness as it does not prevent me from working."
Last updated 26.9.2011