This paper examines the impact of chronic disease status on health and well-being of South Africans in early and later old age. A structured questionnaire, comprising demographic characteristics, selfreported
chronic disease status, an 18-item health problems scale and the health and well-being subscales from the SF-12 was used to collect data from 400 black, 101 Indian, 107 white and 102 colored residents of Greater Pretoria, South Africa. One hundred and ninety (27%) reported no chronic disease, 181 (25%) had hypertension alone, 179 (25%) had hypertension combined with one or more other chronic diseases and 160 (23%) had other chronic diseases without hypertension. There were no significant differences on health and well-being by race, language, gender or marital status. However, there were significant race, age group and gender effects on chronic disease status. Controlling for these factors, the no chronic disease group had significantly better health and well-being than the other three groups; the group with hypertension alone also had better health and well-being than the chronic disease groups with and without hypertension. It was concluded that chronic diseases combined with and without hypertension were more detrimental to health and well-being than no chronic disease or hypertension alone.