Well-Being and Ill-Being in Women in the Later Half of Life: The Roles of Life Events, Medical Diagnoses, Personality and Cognitive Appraisal

Wee Hong Tan (2012). Well-Being and Ill-Being in Women in the Later Half of Life: The Roles of Life Events, Medical Diagnoses, Personality and Cognitive Appraisal Professional Doctorate, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Wee Hong Tan
Thesis Title Well-Being and Ill-Being in Women in the Later Half of Life: The Roles of Life Events, Medical Diagnoses, Personality and Cognitive Appraisal
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2012-08-01
Thesis type Professional Doctorate
Supervisor Dr Jeanie Sheffield
Professor Nancy Pachana
Total pages 155
Total black and white pages 155
Language eng
Subjects 170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology
110308 Geriatrics and Gerontology
Abstract/Summary Australia’s population is ageing and it is important to understand the factors that contribute to increased well-being and reduced ill-being in the ageing process in the later half of life such that middle and older adults can continue to contribute socio-economically and to help reduce the burden on healthcare costs. Ageing women are doubly disadvantaged because of their increasing age and their gender and becomes the focus for the current study. Two hundred and ninety-six (296) women (mean age = 69.13, S.D. = 10.20) from the Longitudinal Assessment of Women (LAW) Study were recruited to complete questionnaires on personality traits, life events and medical diagnoses, appraisal, ill-being and well-being. A model detailing the relationship between personality traits, the number of life events and medical diagnoses, cognitive appraisal, well-being and ill-being was tested. The differences and similarities between personality traits, number of life events and medical diagnoses, appraisal, well-being and ill-being were also examined across middle and older adults. Finally, analyses were conducted to ascertain the best set of predictors for specific measures of well-being (i.e., satisfaction with life, flourishing and resilience) and ill-being (i.e., anxiety and depression). Results provided support for the general hypothesis that personality traits, cognitive appraisal and the number of life events and medical diagnoses predicted well-being and ill-being. Personality traits (optimism, neuroticism and extraversion) predicted well-being and ill-being. The personality-trait-well-being and ill-being relationship was also found to be partially mediated by cognitive appraisal (challenge appraisal, threat appraisal and perceived social support). Number of life events and cognitive appraisal were stronger predictors of well-being and ill-being than the personality traits or medical diagnoses experienced. The trend of increasing chronic health problems and experience of death and bereavement of friends and family, reduced relationship changes and reduced financial and work changes with age was consistent with national survey and past research findings. Analyses of distinguishing factors for low and high levels of life satisfaction, flourishing and resilience indicated that challenge, threat, social support appraisals and number of medical diagnoses differentiated different levels of life satisfaction, whereas, neuroticism, openness to new experiences and challenge appraisal predicted different levels of resilience. Levels of flourishing were distinguished best by neuroticism, optimism, challenge and social support appraisals, and number of life events and medical diagnoses. Analyses of distinguishing factors for low and high anxiety and depression indicated that different levels of depression were best characterised by age, neuroticism, challenge and social support appraisal, whereas anxiety levels were best differentiated by age, neuroticism, openness, challenge, threat and social support appraisals, and number of life events. Additionally, the study findings also indicated that a greater proportion of older women tended to experience chronic health problems such as metabolic, orthopaedic, cardiovascular problems and cancer than younger women. Older women also tended to experience more death and bereavement of family and friends than their younger counterparts. However, relationship changes and work-related events appeared to reduce with age. Further, older women reported lower life satisfaction and flourishing, and higher depression means than younger women. However, the absolute change for well-being and ill-being across age group was small and older women continued to report comparable means on these well-being and ill-being measures when compared to age-similar samples. In summary, personality, number of life events and medical diagnoses, and cognitive appraisal theories could be combined to form a plausible explanation for well-being and ill-being that links bio-psycho-social changes associated with ageing with well-being and ill-being. This model provides a plausible explanation for the different levels of well-being in older adults reported in past research as different levels of cognitive appraisal, personality traits, number of recent life events and medical diagnoses in different studies might have resulted in different accumulative impact on well-being in these studies. Finally, the research results support the notion that the later half of life is not commonly associated with large changes in well-being and ill-being. Contrary to ageist stereotypes, individuals in the later half of life can continue to thrive and be productive. Individuals, healthcare workers and policy-makers can address the factors highlighted in this study to improve well-being and reduce ill-being of ageing individuals.
Keyword Ageing
well being
Life Events
Medical diagnosis
Personality traits
Cognitive Appraisal

 
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Created: Tue, 31 Jul 2012, 09:14:37 EST by Wee Hong Tan on behalf of Faculty of Social & Behavioural Sciences