Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 400–406 | Cite as

Health-specific optimism mediates between objective and perceived physical functioning in older adults

  • Lisa M. Warner
  • Ralf Schwarzer
  • Benjamin Schüz
  • Susanne Wurm
  • Clemens Tesch-Römer
Article

Abstract

Particularly in older adults, self-reports of physical health need not necessarily reflect their objective health status as they can be biased by optimism. In this study, we examine whether the effect of objective physical functioning on subjective physical functioning is modified by health-specific optimism and self-efficacy. A longitudinal study with three measurement points over 6 months and 309 older adults (aged 65–85) with multimorbidity was conducted. Subjective physical functioning was regressed on objective physical functioning, health-specific optimism and self-efficacy. Subjective physical functioning was predicted by both objective physical functioning and optimism as a mediator. Moreover, an interaction between optimism and self-efficacy was found: Optimism predicted subjective physical functioning only for individuals with low self-efficacy. Subjective physical functioning is as much based on objective physical functioning as it is on health-specific optimism. Older adults base their subjective physical functioning on objective indicators but also on optimism, when they are less self-efficacious.

Keywords

Optimism Self-efficacy Physical functioning Older adults Multimorbidity 

References

  1. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Aspinwall, L. G., & Brunhart, S. M. (1996). Distinguishing optimism from denial: Optimistic beliefs predict attention to health threats. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 993–1003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aspinwall, L. G., & Tedeschi, R. (2010). The value of positive psychology for health psychology: Progress and pitfalls in examining the relation of positive phenomena to health. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 39, 4–15.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  5. Beckett, L. A., Brock, D. B., Lemke, J. H., de Leon, C. F. M., Guralnik, J. M., Fillenbaum, G. G., et al. (1996). Analysis of change in self-reported physical function among older persons in four population studies. American Journal of Epidemiology, 143, 766–778.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bonetti, D., Johnston, M., Rodriguez-Marin, J., Pastor, M., Martin-Aragon, M., Doherty, E., et al. (2001). Dimensions of perceived control: A factor analysis of three measures and an examination of their relation to activity level and mood in a student and cross-cultural patient sample. Psychology and Health, 16, 655–674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brummett, B. H., Helms, M. J., Dahlstrom, W. G., & Siegler, I. C. (2006). Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 81, 1541–1544.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bullinger, M., & Kirchberger, I. (1998). SF-36 Fragebogen zum Gesundheitszustand [The SF-36 Health Survey Questionnaire]. Göttingen: Hogrefe.Google Scholar
  9. Charlson, M. E., Szatrowski, T. P., Peterson, J., & Gold, J. (1994). Validation of a combined comorbidity index. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 47, 1245–1251.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chen, G., Gully, S. M., Whiteman, J. A., & Kilcullen, R. N. (2000). Examination of relationships among trait-like individual differences, state-like individual differences, and learning performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85, 835–847.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Davidson, K., & Prkachin, K. (1997). Optimism and unrealistic optimism have an interacting impact on health-promoting behavior and knowledge changes. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 617–625. doi:10.1177/0146167297236005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. de Ridder, D., Fournier, M., & Bensing, J. (2004). Does optimism affect symptom report in chronic disease? What are its consequences for self-care behaviour and physical functioning? Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 56, 341–350.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Diener, E., & Chan, M. Y. (2011). Happy people live longer: Subjective well-being contributes to health and longevity. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 3, 1–43. doi:10.1111/j.1758-0854.2010.01045.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Enders, C. K. (2001). A primer on maximum likelihood algorithms available for use with missing data. Structural Equation Modeling, 8, 128–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fortin, M., Lapointe, L., Hudon, C., Vanasse, A., Ntetu, A. L., & Maltais, D. (2004). Multimorbidity and quality of life in primary care: A systematic review. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 2. doi:10.1186/1477-7525-1182-1151
  16. Friedman, H. S., Tucker, J. S., Tomlinson-Keasey, C., Schwartz, J. E., Wingard, D. L., & Criqui, M. H. (1993). Does childhood personality predict longevity? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 176–185.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gijsen, R., Hoeymans, N., Schellevis, F. G., Ruwaard, D., Satariano, W. A., & van den Bos, G. A. (2001). Causes and consequences of comorbidity: A review. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 54, 661–674.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Giltay, E. J., Kamphuis, M. H., Kalmijn, S., Zitman, F. G., & Kromhout, D. (2006). Dispositional optimism and the risk of cardiovascular death: the Zutphen Elderly Study. Archives of Internal Medicine, 166, 431–436.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Gold, M. S., & Bentler, P. M. (2000). Treatments of missing data: A Monte Carlo comparison of RBHDI, iterative stochastic regression imputation, and expectation-maximization. Structural Equation Modeling, 7, 319–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Groll, D. L., To, T., Bombardier, C., & Wright, J. G. (2005). The development of a comorbidity index with physical function as the outcome. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 58, 595–602.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Guralnik, J. M., Simonsick, E. M., Ferrucci, L., & Glynn, R. J. (1994). A short physical performance battery assessing lower extremity function: Association with self-reported disability and prediction of mortality and nursing home admission. Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, 49, M85–M89.Google Scholar
  22. Hankonen, N., Vollmann, M., Renner, B., & Absetz, P. (2010). What is setting the stage for abdominal obesity reduction? A comparison between personality and health-related social cognitions. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 33, 415–422.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hayes, A. F., & Matthes, J. (2009). Computational procedures for probing interactions in OLS and logistic regression: SPSS and SAS implementations. Behavior Research Methods, 41, 924–936.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kempen, G. I. J. M., & van Sonderen, E. (2002). Psychological attributes and changes in disability among low-functioning older persons: Does attrition affect the outcomes? Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 55, 224–229.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lee, S. J., Loberiza, F. R., Rizzo, J. D., Soiffer, R. J., Antin, J. H., & Weeks, J. C. (2003). Optimistic expectations and survival after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, 9, 389–396.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Luszczynska, A., Gutiérrez-Doña, B., & Schwarzer, R. (2005). General self-efficacy in various domains of human functioning: Evidence from five countries. International Journal of Psychology, 40, 80–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Luszczynska, A., Sarkar, Y., & Knoll, N. (2007). Received social support, self-efficacy, and finding benefits in disease as predictors of physical functioning and adherence to antiretroviral therapy. Patient Education and Counseling, 66, 37–42.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Preacher, K. J., Rucker, D. D., & Hayes, A. F. (2007). Addressing moderated mediation hypotheses: Theory, methods, and prescriptions. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 42, 185–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Radcliffe, N. M., & Klein, W. M. P. (2002). Dispositional, unrealistic and comparative optimism: Differential relations with the knowledge and processing of risk information and beliefs about personal risk. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 836–846.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rasmussen, H. N., Scheier, M. F., & Greenhouse, J. B. (2009). Optimism and physical health: A meta-analytic review. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 37, 239–256.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Renner, B., & Schupp, H. T. (2011). The perception of health risks. In H. Friedman (Ed.). Oxford Handbook of Health Psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780195342819.do.
  32. Ruthig, J. C., & Chipperfield, J. G. (2007). Health incongruence in later life: Implications for subsequent well-being and health care. Health Psychology, 26, 753–761.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schenkman, M., Hughes, M. A., Samsa, G., & Studenski, S. (1996). The relative importance of strength and balance in chair rise by functionally impaired older individuals. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 44, 1441–1446.Google Scholar
  34. Schofield, P., Ball, D., Smith, J. G., Borland, R., O’Brien, P., Davis, S., et al. (2004). Optimism and survival in lung carcinoma patients. Cancer, 100, 1276–1282.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Schröder, K., Schwarzer, R., & Konertz, W. (1998). Coping as a mediator in recovery from cardiac surgery. Psychology and Health, 13, 83–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schüz, B., Wurm, S., Warner, L. M., & Ziegelmann, J. P. (in press). Self-efficacy and multiple illness representations in older adults: A multilevel approach. Psychology and Health.Google Scholar
  37. Schwarzer, R. (1994). Optimism, vulnerability, and self-beliefs as health-related cognitions: A systematic overview. Psychology and Health, 9, 161–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Schwarzer, R. (1999). Self-regulatory processes in the adoption and maintenance of health behaviors: The role of optimism, goals, and threats. Journal of Health Psychology, 4, 115–127.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Schwarzer, R., Boehmer, S., Luszczynska, A., Mohamed, N. E., & Knoll, N. (2005). Dispositional self-efficacy as a personal resource factor in coping after surgery. Personality and Individual Differences, 39, 807–818.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schwarzer, R., & Jerusalem, M. (1995). Generalized self-efficacy scale. In J. Weinman, S. Wright, & M. Johnston (Eds.), Measures in health psychology: A user’s portfolio. Causal and control beliefs (pp. 35–37). Windsor, England: NFER-Nelson.Google Scholar
  41. Taylor, S. E., & Brown, J. D. (1994). Positive illusions and well-being revisited: Separating fact from fiction. Psychological Bulletin, 116, 21–27.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Terrill, A. L., Ruiz, J. M., & Garofalo, J. P. (2010). Look on the bright side: Do the benefits of optimism depend on the social nature of the stressor? Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 33, 399–414.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Umstattd, M. R., McAuley, E. M., Motl, R. W., & Rosengren, K. S. (2007). Pessimism and physical functioning in older women: Influence of self-efficacy. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 30, 107–114.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Unesco. (1997). ISCED 1997: International standard classification of education retrieved May 16th 2010, from http://www.uis.unesco.org/publications/ISCED97
  45. van den Akker, M., Buntinx, F., Metsemakers, J. F., Roos, S., & Knottnerus, J. A. (1998). Multimorbidity in general practice: Prevalence, incidence, and determinants of co-occurring chronic and recurrent diseases. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 51, 367–375.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ware, J. E., & Sherbourne, C. D. (1992). The MOS 36-item short-form health survey (SF-36): I. Conceptual framework and item selection. Medical Care, 30, 473–483.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Waters, E. A., Klein, W. M., Moser, R. P., Yu, M., Waldron, W. R., McNeel, T. S., et al. (2011). Correlates of unrealistic risk beliefs in a nationally representative sample. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 34, 225–235. doi:10.1007/s10865-010-9303-7 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Weinstein, N. D. (1982). Unrealistic optimism about susceptibility to health problems. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 5, 441–460.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Weinstein, N. D., Kwitel, A., McCaul, K. D., Magnan, R. E., Gerrard, M., & Gibbons, F. X. (2007). Risk perceptions: Assessment and relationship to influenza vaccination. Health Psychology, 26, 146–151.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wittink, H., Rogers, W., Sukiennik, A., & Carr, D. B. (2003). Physical functioning: Self-report and performance measures are related but distinct. Spine, 28, 2407–2413.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wurm, S., Tomasik, M. J., & Tesch-Römer, C. (2010). On the importance of a positive view on ageing for physical exercise among middle-aged and older adults: Cross-sectional and longitudinal findings. Psychology and Health, 25, 25–42.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa M. Warner
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ralf Schwarzer
    • 1
    • 3
  • Benjamin Schüz
    • 2
  • Susanne Wurm
    • 2
  • Clemens Tesch-Römer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.German Centre of GerontologyBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Warsaw School of Social Sciences and HumanitiesWroclawPoland

Personalised recommendations