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Attitudes to aging mediate the relationship between older peoples’ subjective health and quality of life in 20 countries.

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  • Background With ever-increasing life expectancy globally, it is imperative to build knowledge of how older peoples’ views of their own aging, considering their health-related circumstances, affect quality of life for practitioners and policy-makers alike. Based on our literature review, we wanted to determine whether older adults’ attitudes toward their own aging would partly mediate the effect of their health satisfaction ratings upon their quality of life. Furthermore, would these attitudes mediate the relationship between health satisfaction and quality of life in the same way when we account for older adults’ country of origin, and their age and gender? Methods This was a secondary analysis of cross-sectional survey data collected in 20 countries taking part in the 2003 WHOQOL-OLD Field study. The study sample consisted of 4593 adults whom were, on average, 72.10 years of age (range = 60 to 100 years of age); 42.8% were female. The WHOQOL-BREF measured quality of life and health satisfaction. The Attitudes to Aging Questionnaire measured participants’ attitudes toward physical change, psychosocial loss, and psychological growth. All items in both questionnaires were measured on a 5-point Likert scale. Questionnaire responses were analyzed using multilevel modeling and path analysis. Results All three attitudes to aging partly mediated the relationship between health satisfaction and physical, psychological, social, environmental, and global quality of life. These partial mediations manifested in the same way across all 20 country samples, regardless of age or gender. Attitudes toward physical change were the strongest mediator of health satisfaction upon global and domain-specific quality of life, followed by psychosocial loss and psychosocial growth. Conclusions Our study is the first cross-cultural study with a large sample to show that quality of life judgements, between 60 to 100 years of age, are a product of older men’s and women’s perceptions of health-related circumstances, and attitudes toward physical and psychosocial aspects of the aging self. A prospective study of the linkages between older peoples’ subjective views of health and attitudes toward the aging self over time using multiple subjective measures of health is warranted. Understanding these linkages may help practitioners and policy makers consider strategies to enhance quality of life.

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    Article (Published)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 International
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    • Low, G., Molzahn, A. E., & Schopflocher, D. (2013). Attitudes to aging mediate the relationship between older peoples' subjective health and quality of life in 20 countries. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 11(1).