The psychological strengths used by older Australians in maintaining their health and quality of life

PhD Thesis


Graham, Coralie. 2011. The psychological strengths used by older Australians in maintaining their health and quality of life. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.
Title

The psychological strengths used by older Australians in maintaining their health and quality of life

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorGraham, Coralie
SupervisorGorman, Don
Goh, Hong Eng
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages191
Year2011
Abstract

The potential for spiralling health care costs of the ageing baby boomer cohort has provided impetus for research into all aspects of this group. Previous studies from other countries have shown a positive association between a number of psychological strengths and health; however limited Australian research exists in this area. This mixed-method two phase study investigated the psychological strengths that older adults use in maintaining their health and quality of life. This methodology was chosen to provide a deeper insight into the concepts and cross validation of results. The qualitative analysis of the interviews of 10 older adults in phase 1 found that adaptability, a positive outlook, social connectedness, and spirituality; in addition to receipt of support services were important factors to maintaining health, quality of life and the ability for those over 65 to remain independent in their own home in the community. The quantitative phase 2 of this study investigated the degree of the relationship between resilience, optimism and health and surveyed 620 older adults by mail. Data analysis using multiple regression identified resilience as a predictor of better self reported mental and physical health. Explanatory style negative events were also shown to make a significant negative contribution to the physical health of older adults, and dispositional optimism made a significant positive contribution to mental health. Previous research also suggests that a number of these strengths are able to be enhanced with minimal intervention, and considering their positive relationship with health status, the potential for flow on financial savings in the promotion of health and quality of life in older adults is immense. Relatively high health/cognitive explanatory style scores despite poor physical and mental health suggest that community-based aged-care services provide a
considerable protective influence in older adults. This research makes a valuable contribution to the existing knowledge of the psychological profile of older Australians in relation to their health, in addition to some very worthwhile contributions for the future direction of community-based aged-care services. This project also provides a sound base to guide future research.

Keywordsbaby boomers; elderly; psychological strength; psychological strengths; psychological health; health; Australia; Australians; minimal support; community support services
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020520599. Social and personality psychology not elsewhere classified
420502. Aged care nursing
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Nursing and Midwifery
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