Advertisement

Applied Research in Quality of Life

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 33–50 | Cite as

Life Satisfaction and Associated Factors Among People Aged 60 Years and Above in Six European Countries

  • Cecilia FagerströmEmail author
  • Christel Borg
  • Cristian Balducci
  • Vanessa Burholt
  • Clare G. Wenger
  • Dieter Ferring
  • Germain Weber
  • Göran Holst
  • Ingalill R. Hallberg
Article

Abstract

Life satisfaction is a concept frequently used to measure wellbeing of older people. However, there is still a lack of cross-national comparative research investigating factors associated with life satisfaction. There may be unique and common factors associated with life satisfaction across European countries. This study aimed to investigate life satisfaction among people aged 60–89 years in six European countries in relation to health problems, ADL capacity, self-esteem, social and financial resources. A cross-sectional study was performed, including 7,699 people aged 60–89 years, in Sweden, the UK, The Netherlands, Luxemburg, Austria and Italy, participating in the European Study of Adult Wellbeing, using questions from the Older Americans Resources and Services schedule, Multidimensional Functional Assessment Questionnaire, Life Satisfaction Index Z and Rosenberg’s Self-esteem scale. Logistic regression analysis was performed to determine factors associated with life satisfaction in the six national samples. In cases where people were less satisfied with their life it was fairly satisfactory and unsatisfactory social contacts (Odds Ratio (OR) 1.5–13.8), poor financial resources (OR 1.7–15.1), feeling greatly hindered by health problems (OR 2.2–5.4) and self-esteem (OR 2.1–5.1) rather than the ability to perform activities of daily living and the extent of social contacts that gave the greatest risk of low life satisfaction in all the six European countries. There were both common and country-specific factors important for life satisfaction in the six European countries. However, the importance of satisfactory social contacts, financial resources, self-esteem and feeling hindered by health problems seems universal in the six included countries and thus important to target in preventive interventions.

Keywords

Cross-national Feeling hindered by health problems Life satisfaction Older people Self-esteem Social contacts 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The European Commission, QLRT-2001-00280, funds ESAW. The authors are solely responsible for the content of this report and it does not represent the opinion of the Community. The Community is not responsible for any use that might be made of data appearing within this report. The study represents a European sub-group of the larger global study, which aims to develop a European model of adult wellbeing, using the five key components and parallel methodology. The project has been co-ordinated by Professor G. Clare Wenger, of the University of Wales, Bangor, United Kingdom, and principal investigators have led the national research teams. The authors wish to thank all the subjects for participating in the present study. We would also like to thank Anna Condelius and John Tällberg for help with data collection and data input and Per Nyberg for help with statistics, Inger Andersson and Vicky Gatzuras for help with back-translation of the questionnaire. This work was supported by grants from the Vårdal Foundation V2000 112, Länsförsäkringar P7/01, European Commission QLRT-2001-00280, Department of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine, Lund University.

References

  1. Altman, D. G. (1991). Practical statistics for medical research. London: Chapman and Hall.Google Scholar
  2. Avlund, K., Due, P., Holstein, B. E., Heikkinen, R. L., & Berg, S. (2002). Changes in social relations in old age. Are they influenced by functional ability? Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 14, 56–64.Google Scholar
  3. Baiyewu, O., & Jegede, R. O. (1992). Life satisfaction in elderly Nigerians: Reliability and factor composition of the life satisfaction Index Z. Age and Ageing, 21, 256–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bjorndal, A., & Hofoss, D. (1998). Statistics for health and care service staff [In Swedish Statistik för hälso- och sjukvårdspersonal]. Malmö: Universitetsforlaget.Google Scholar
  5. Blascovich, J., & Tomaka, J. (1991). Measures of self-esteem. In J. P. Robinson, P. R. Shaver, & L. S. Wrightsman (Eds.), Measures of personality and social psychological attitudes (pp. 115–123). San Diego: Academic.Google Scholar
  6. Borg, C., Hallberg, I. R., & Blomqvist, K. (2006). Life satisfaction among older people (65+) with reduced self-care capacity – The relationship to loneliness, overall health, physical activities, and economic aspects. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 15, 607–618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bowling, A. (1997). Measuring health. A review of life measurement scales. (2nd ed.) Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Christoph, B., & Noll, H. (2003). Subjective well-being in the European Union during the 90s. Social Indicators Research, 64, 521–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cronbach, L. J. (1951). Coefficient alpha and the internal structure of tests. Psychometrika, 16, 297–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. D’Andrea, S. S. (1998). Italian quality of life. Social Indicators Research, 44, 5–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Delhey, J. (2004). Life satisfaction in an enlarged Europe (pp. 1–59). Luxembourg.Google Scholar
  12. Diener, E., & Diener, M. (1995). Cross-cultural correlates of life satisfaction and self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 653–663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Lucas, R. E. (2003). Personality, culture, and subjective well-being: Emotional and cognitive evaluations of life. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 403–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Farquhar, M. (1995). Elderly people's definitions of quality of life. Social Science & Medicine, 41, 1439–1446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ferring, D., Balducci, C., Burholt, V., Wenger, C., Thissen, F., Weber, G., et al. (2004). Life satisfaction of older people in six European countries: Findings from the European Study of Adult well-being. European Journal of Ageing, 1, 15–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ferring, D., Hallberg, I. R., Windle, G., Heiss, C., Paulsson, C., Spazzafumo, L., et al. (2003). Comparative report on Physical health and functional status (pp. 1–72). Bangor Institute of Medical and Social Care Research, University of Wales.Google Scholar
  17. Fillenbaum, G. G. (1985). Screening the elderly a brief instrumental activities of daily living measure. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 33, 698–706.Google Scholar
  18. Fillenbaum, G. G. (1988). Multidimensional functional assessment of older adults. The Duke older Americans resources and services procedures: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  19. Girzadas, P. M., Counte, M. L., Glandon, G. L., & Tancredi, D. (1993). An analysis of elderly health and life satisfaction. Behavior, Health and Aging, 3, 103–117.Google Scholar
  20. Grann, J. D. (2000). Assessment of emotions in older adults: Mood disorders, anxiety, psychological well-being, and hope. In R. L. Kane & R. A. Kane (Eds.), Assessing older persons measures, meaning, and practical applications. United States of America: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hillerås, P., Jorm, A. F., Herlitz, A., & Winblad, B. (2001). Life satisfaction among the very old: A survey on a cognitively intact sample aged 90 years and above. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 52, 71–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ho, S. C., Woo, J., Lau, J. Chan, S. G., & Yuen, Y. K. (1995). Life satisfaction and associated factors in older Hong Kong Chinese. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 43, 252–255.Google Scholar
  23. Hosmer, D. W., & Lemeshow, S. (2000). Applied logistic regression. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  24. Mannel, R. C., & Dupuis, S. (1996). Life satisfaction. In J. E. Birren, (Ed.), Encyclopedia of gerontology age, aging, and the aged (pp. 59–64). San Diego: Academic.Google Scholar
  25. McCamish-Svensson, C., Samuelsson, G., Hagberg, B., Svensson, T., & Dehlin, O. (1999). Social relationships and health as predictors of life satisfaction in advanced old age: Results from a Swedish longitudinal study. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 48, 301–324.Google Scholar
  26. Michalos, A. C., Zumbo, B. D., & Humbley, A. (2000). Health and the Quality of life. Social Indicators Research, 245–286.Google Scholar
  27. Molarius, A., & Janson, S. (2002). Self-rated health, chronic diseases, and symptoms among middle-aged and elderly men and women. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 55, 364–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Morgan, K., Dallosso, H. M., Arie, T., Byrne, E. J., Jones, R., & Waite, J. (1987). Mental health and psychological well-being among the old and the very old living at home. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 150, 801–807.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Neugarten, B. L., Havighurst, R. J., & Tobin, S. S. (1961). The measurement of life satisfaction. Journal of Gerontology, 16, 134–143.Google Scholar
  30. Pavot, W., Diener, E., Colvin, C. R., & Sandvik, E. (1991). Further validation of the Satisfaction with Life Scale: Evidence for the cross-method convergence of well-being measures. Journal of Personality Assessment, 57, 149–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Persson, G., Boström, G., Allebeck, P., Andersson, L., Berg, S., Johansson, L., et al. (2001). Elderly people’s health – 65 and after. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 29, 117–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pervin, L. A., & John, O. P. (1996). Personality theory and research. (7th ed.) New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  33. Pickering, G., Brunet, F., Roussel, M., & Pastor, J. M. (2001). Evaluation of the offer of physical activity for the elderly in a region of France. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 33, 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pinquart, M., & Sörensen, S. (2000). Influences of socioeconomic status, social network, and competence on subjective well-being in later life: A meta-analysis. Psychology and Aging, 187–224.Google Scholar
  35. Polit, D. F. (1996). Data analysis & statistics for nursing research. New York: Appleton & Lange.Google Scholar
  36. Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Rosenberg, M. (1979). Conceiving the self. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  38. Sarvimäki, A., & Stenbock-Hult, B. (2000). Quality of life in old age described as a sense of well-being, meaning and value. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 32, 1025–1033.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Scharf, T., van der Meer, M., & Thissen, F. (2003). Contextualising adult well-being in Europe: Report on socio-cultural differences in ESAW nations. (pp. 1–86). Bangor Institute of Medical and Social Care Research, University of Wales.Google Scholar
  40. Schwartz, A. N. (1975). An observation on Self-Esteem as the Linchpin of Quality of life for the aged. An essay. The Gerontologist, 15, 470–472.Google Scholar
  41. Stamatakis, K. A., Lynch, J., Everson, S. A., Raghunathan, T., Salonen, J. T., & Kaplan, G. A. (2004). Self-esteem and mortality: Prospective evidence from a population-based study. Annals of Epidemiology, 14, 58–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. van de Vijver, F., & Leung, K. (1997). Methods and data analysis for cross-cultural research. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  43. Veenhoven, R. (1984). Conditions of happiness. Dordrecht: Reidel.Google Scholar
  44. Veenhoven, R. (2000). The four qualities of life ordering concepts and measures of the good life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1, 1–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Vitterso, J., Roysamb, E., & Diener, E. (2002). The concept of life satisfaction across cultures: Exploring its diverse meaning and relation to economic wealth. In E. Gullone, & R. A. Cummins (Eds.), The Universality of subjective wellbeing indicators a multi-disciplinary and multi-national perspective (pp. 81–103). Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  46. Walker, A. (2005). Growing older in Europe. McGraw-HillGoogle Scholar
  47. Wenger, G. C. (1997). Review of findings on support networks of older Europeans. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 12, 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wood, V., Wylie, M. L., & Sheafor, B. (1969). An analysis of a short self-report measure of life satisfaction: Correlation with rater judgments. Journal of Gerontology, 24, 465–469.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media BV/The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cecilia Fagerström
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Christel Borg
    • 2
  • Cristian Balducci
    • 3
  • Vanessa Burholt
    • 4
  • Clare G. Wenger
    • 4
  • Dieter Ferring
    • 5
  • Germain Weber
    • 6
  • Göran Holst
    • 7
  • Ingalill R. Hallberg
    • 1
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of MedicineLund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.School of Health ScienceBlekinge Institute of TechnologyKarlskronaSweden
  3. 3.Department of Gerontological ResearchI.N.R.C.AAnconaItaly
  4. 4.Centre for Social Policy Research & Development, Institute of Medical and Social Care ResearchUniversity of WalesBangorUK
  5. 5.University of LuxembourgLuxembourgLuxembourg
  6. 6.Department of Clinical Psychology and HealthUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  7. 7.Blekinge Institute of Research & DevelopmentKarlskronaSweden
  8. 8.The Vårdal InstituteLundSweden

Personalised recommendations