The importance of positive and negative well-being in older people; associations with psychosocial factors, cortisol and cognitive performance

Fredhoi, C. 2015. The importance of positive and negative well-being in older people; associations with psychosocial factors, cortisol and cognitive performance. PhD thesis University of Westminster Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities

TitleThe importance of positive and negative well-being in older people; associations with psychosocial factors, cortisol and cognitive performance
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsFredhoi, C.
Abstract

During the past decades, studies have attempted to define predictive factors that are associated with successful ageing. The extent to which positive and
negative well-being, as two independent dimensions (Huppert and Whittington, 2003), are related to ageing is examined in this research. The first aim was to
confirm the independence of positive and negative well-being, secondly, to establish if demographic and psychosocial factors, a biomarker of health (cortisol) and cognitive functioning are associated with positive and negative well-being and thirdly, to determine if associations found would remain stable or change over a three-year period.

Fifty older adults (aged 59-91, mean=74, SD±7, 34 females) participated at Time 1 and 75% of the participants (n=37, aged 63-87, mean=74, SD±6, 25
females) participated at Time 2. Demographical and psychosocial data were collected at an initial home visit, followed by two diurnal cycles of cortisol
collections (8 samples per day) and cognitive assessment at a second visit.

Four well-being quadrants (LowPos/LowNeg, LowPos/HighNeg,HighPos/LowNeg and HighPos/HighNeg) were found, supporting the theory that positive and negative well-being are two relatively independent domains. There
was a significant main effect of negative well-being on health, quality of life and social support while positive well-being had no effect. There was also a main
effect of positive well-being on successful ageing and spirituality while negative well-being had no effect. Results of the overall cortisol concentrations revealed
an interaction between dimensions of well-being. The HighPos/LowNeg participants had significantly lower post-awakening cortisol compared to the rest
of the group. Cognitive performance was inversely correlated with age for those who scored low on positive well-being and on those who scored high on the
negative well-being, suggesting that those who reported high positive well-being and low negative well-being were likely to experience better age-related
cognitive function. There was no change in positive and negative well-being over a three-year period. Despite this, participants reported worse health and
less social support. The results from the cortisol data indicated a reduced dynamic of the awakening cortisol response over the 3-year period but suggested that patterns of cortisol secretion remained largely consistent over time, regardless of changes in psychosocial factors.

This work has replicated and extended previous findings on positive and negative well-being, as measured by the GHQ-30, and developed our understanding of how and to what extent positive and negative well-being can
be said to function as two relatively independent domains. This thesis has further demonstrated the utility of including a variety of factors, such as
psychosocial, cortisol and cognitive performance in order to measure determinants of successful ageing.

Year2015
FileFredhoi_Cathrine_thesis.pdf

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