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Title: Applying health psychology in an academic environment
Author: Brett, Caroline E.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5920 2555
Awarding Body: City University London
Current Institution: City, University of London
Date of Award: 2015
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Introduction. With an ageing population, the health and well-being of older adults is one of the most pressing issues facing the world today. Subjective well-being refers to the way people evaluate the objective conditions of their life and is widely thought to consist of both affective and cognitive appraisal components. It has been found to be associated with a wide range of outcomes, including health, functioning, mortality, income and coping. Understanding the determinants of subjective well-being and the underlying mechanisms of these relationships is vital in identifying potential targets for intervention. This is particularly relevant in older adults, who experience increasing functional decline as part of the ageing process. Adopting a life course approach enables the investigation of the bio-psycho-social factors influencing well-being throughout life. This study utilises a unique sample of individuals studied extensively in childhood and early adulthood and followed up in old age. It aims to investigate the structure and life course determinants of subjective well-being in older adults. Methods. The 6-Day Sample of the Scottish Mental Survey consists of 1208 individuals born on 6 days of 1936 and followed up from the age of 11 to 27. 174 members of this group were recruited into a follow-up study at age 77, completing a questionnaire and physical testing measures. Childhood measures included background demographic factors, personality, and educational and occupational ambitions and attainment. Old age measures included social mobility, personality, optimism, resilience, mood, sense of coherence, stress reactivity (cortisol) and three measures of subjective well-being (life satisfaction, mental well-being and mental health). Results. The three individual measures of well-being were found to load onto single traits with satisfactory to poor fit. A confirmatory factor analysis of all well-being items suggested a modest fit to a model incorporating two inter-related latent traits of affective and cognitive well-being. None of the early career or occupational goal attainment factors were associated with well-being, with the exception of goal change in women. Job instability was found to be associated with sense of coherence manageability in men and resilience and sense of coherence comprehensibility in women, although in opposite directions. There were no associations between measures of stress reactivity and well-being. Hierarchical regression analyses suggested that the strongest determinants of subjective well-being in this group are current anxiety, current depression, and sense of coherence, with significant contributions from the Big Five personality traits of extraversion, conscientiousness, and emotional stability. Conclusions. The results have implications for improving subjective well-being in older adults. Anxiety and depression are important targets for intervention in older adults as they are associated with increased mortality risk and cognitive decline. A strong sense of coherence is important in old age as it has been associated with a variety of positive health and well-being outcomes. The current study highlights the importance of these three factors and personality traits in determining well-being in old age, and illuminates some of the potential mechanisms for these relationships.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology