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A matter of life and health. Life satisfaction, personality and mortality in two populations of elders

En fråga om liv och hälsa. Livstillfredsställelse, personlighet och mortalitet i två äldre populationer
Publiceringsår: 2011
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 173
Dokumenttyp: Doktorsavhandling
Förlag: Department of psychology, Lund University


The aims of the present thesis were to explore and describe elderly people’s morbidity and experience of symptoms in relation to life satisfaction, personality and mortality. (I, II and III) To learn from the individuals who have high life satisfaction in spite of the fact that they have concurrent medical diagnoses and conditions. (I and III) To reason how positive factors and strengths might help the individuals who experience ill-health even though they don’t have diagnoses to any great extent. (I and III)

The present thesis includes three empirical studies examining elder individuals (60-93 years).
Study I was a longitudinal study that concluded that the experience of subjective signs of illness carries the same mortality risks as diseases. Objective signs of disease often do not concur in a simple way with the subjective experience of health. Experiencing symptoms and/or having diseases is related to the same
increased mortality risk during a 15-year follow-up of an elderly population in Sweden.
Study II was a theoretical explorative cross-sectional study of two cohorts, which conclusion was that it’s important to consider symptoms as well as diagnoses when having life satisfaction as an outcome. The three different models explored in this study might serve different purposes depending on the research question or context, e.g. intervention, treatment or care.
Study III was a cross-sectional study of several cohorts with a large total range of ages. The conclusion in the third study was that personality showed to be an important factor to consider when life satisfaction is outcome in studies including older, often multimorbid, populations. Especially the personality trait of
extraversion showed to be important in relation to higher life satisfaction with standardized estimates ranging from 0.69 - 0.88 in a structural model that fitted the data fairly well: χ2(392) was 1696.5, p < 0.001, RMSEA = 0.04 and CFI = 0.83. The three traits of neuroticism, extraversion and openness showed to have relation to life satisfaction in different ways, in different groups.

The conclusions drawn from the three studies are that perspectives of risks as well as perspectives of strengths are necessary and complementary in order to get a good picture of interactions – how positive and negative emotions, experiences, thoughts and behaviours are interconnected in stressful situations, such as ageing or ill health. Incorporating positive features provides great potential for improving prognoses, an understanding of and greater conceptualization of subjective well-being. The integration of both strengths and weaknesses can improve predictions of disease, increase our understanding of resilience, enhance our
scientific knowledge and lead to a revolutionary understanding of well-being.


Palaestra hörsal nedre, Paradisgatan 4, Lund
  • Mikael Rennemark (Docent)


  • Psychology
  • Elders
  • health
  • subjective well-being
  • life satisfaction
  • personality
  • multimorbidity
  • mortality
  • symptoms


  • Per Johnsson (Docent, prefekt)
  • Sölve Elmståhl
  • Torbjörn Svensson
  • ISBN: 978-91-7473-094-4

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