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Factors associated with quality of life in older adults in the United States

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According to the World Health Organization, quality of life (QOL) includes physical and mental health, emotional well-being, and social functioning. Using an adaptation of Andersen’s behavioral model, we examined the associations between the three dimensions of QOL and needs and health behaviors in a nationally representative sample of adults 65 years and older.


A representative sample from the 2005–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) was used. NHANES over-samples persons 60 years and older, African Americans, and Hispanics. Frequencies and distribution patterns were assessed, followed by bivariate and multiple regression analyses.


These older adults reported high levels of QOL. However, associations between needs and health behaviors and QOL varied across dimensions. Activities of daily living (ADL) were associated with all three dimensions. Depression was associated with two dimensions and memory problems with one dimension. Physical activity was linked to social functioning, and health care utilization was linked to emotional well-being.


The differences in associations with different dimensions of QOL confirm that this is a multidimensional concept. Since depression, memory problems, and ADL function were all associated with some dimension of QOL, future interventions to improve QOL in older adults should include screening and treatment for these problems.

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This research was supported by an individual training grant (K01 NR0105556) and a grant from the Rural Healthcare Research Center (R3P20NR009009-05S1) both from the National Institute of Nursing Research, and a grant from the Jeanette Lancaster Fund, School of Nursing University of Virginia. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Nursing Research or the National Institute of Health.

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Correspondence to Marianne Baernholdt.

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Baernholdt, M., Hinton, I., Yan, G. et al. Factors associated with quality of life in older adults in the United States. Qual Life Res 21, 527–534 (2012).

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