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Age or illness - To what do older people attribute symptoms and does this affect functional health?

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 11:08 authored by Wurm, S, Benjamin SchuezBenjamin Schuez, Ziegelmann, J, Warner, L

Objectives: Older people with chronic illnesses experience losses in their functional health. Longitudinal studies showed that a negative view on own ageing is detrimental to functional and physical health. It is an open question whether the detrimental effect of a negative view on ageing depends on the attribution of health problems to age or to illnesses.

Methods: A longitudinal study (PREFER) in N = 309 older people (65+) with multiple illnesses assessed functional health, views on ageing (expectations of age-related losses) and attributions of symptoms to age or to illnesses at three measurement points.

Results: The functional health of people who viewed ageing as accompanied by physical losses significantly declined over a 6-month period (B = 0.11; p < 0.05). Moderated regression analyses showed that this negative effect is smaller for those people who attribute their health problems to age and not to illnesses (interaction B = 0.09; p < 0.05). All analyses were controlled for functional health, physical activity, disease impact and subjective health at baseline.

Conclusions: This emphasises the role of individual views of ageing on health. The positive effects might be due to that people who expect ageing-related losses rather than illness-related lossesare better able to maintain or resume beneficial health behaviours.


Publication title

Psychology & Helath




Paul Norman & Adriana Baban






School of Psychological Sciences



Place of publication

London, UK

Event title

24th Conference of the European Health Psychology Society

Event Venue

Cluj-Napoca. Romania

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Health related to ageing

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