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In light of the demographic aging trend in Europe, investigation into successful aging is a public health priority. This paper describes the sense of coherence (SOC) of a sample of community-dwelling older adults in Spain and analyzes the relationship between SOC and both health and sociodemographic variables. SOC measures the extent to which an individual conceptualizes the world as comprehensible, manageable, and meaningful. Strong SOC may promote good health.
The study followed a cross-sectional design involving a nationally representative sample of 1,106 community-dwelling adults aged 60 years and older in Spain. The sample was collected by geographically based proportional stratified sampling. Results are based on responses to a questionnaire requesting sociodemographic information and including the following validated scales: SOC, Barthel index (BI), functional independence scale (FIS), personal wellbeing index (PWI), EQ-5D dimensions (mobility, personal care, daily activities, pain/discomfort, anxiety/depression), and the depression subscale of the hospital anxiety and depression scale (HADS-D). A multivariate linear regression model analyzed determinants of SOC.
Personal wellbeing (b = −0.32), depression (b = 0.26), and educational level (b = −0.06) were significant determinants of SOC. Lower SOC was associated with problems in all EQ-5D dimensions and moderate/severe disability as measured by the BI.
SOC in older adults is related to functional status, mental health status, personal wellbeing, and educational level. Public health initiatives should work to reduce the psychological and physiological impact of aging by focusing on the conditions that facilitate the coping of older adults.
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