Examining the Influence of Perceptions of Aging on Objective Physical Functioning and Self-Rated Health
Previous research has examined the role of perceptions of aging (POA) on various health outcomes, and consistent relationships have been found linking more positive POA with better health. However, there is limited research on the relationship between POA and certain health constructs, including self-rated health (SRH) and objective physical functioning. Additionally, there is a lack of research on variables that mediate the relationship between POA and health. Thus the current study had three main aims: 1) Examine the predictive relationship between POA and SRH two and eight years later; 2) Examine potential mediating variables in the relationship between POA and SRH; and 3) Examine potential mediating variables in the relationship between POA and objective physical functioning eight years later. The current study utilized data of Australian adults 65 years and older from the ALSA longitudinal dataset. The sample used consisted of 880 participants who had POA baseline data. SRH data from Waves 3 (two years post-baseline) and 6 (eight years post-baseline) were used, and objective physical functioning data from Wave 6 were used. Potential mediating variables and constructs included health behaviors, leisure activity engagement, perceived control over health, physiological stress, and number of medical conditions, all measured at Wave 3. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to examine direct relationships between baseline POA and SRH two and eight years post-baseline, and between baseline POA and objective physical functioning eight years post-baseline, while controlling for relevant variables. Results indicated that the relationship between baseline POA and SRH two years later was significant; more positive POA predicted better SRH. However, the relationship between baseline POA and SRH eight years later was not significant. Additionally, the relationship between baseline POA and objective physical functioning eight years later was not significant. Due to the non-significance of the latter two relationships, mediation was not examined. Notably, the current study controlled for a larger number and more diverse set of covariates than previous studies on this topic, which could explain the non-significant findings. These results also suggest that POA have a different impact on different health variables, and perhaps also have a different impact over time.
Hicks, Stephanie Ann, "Examining the Influence of Perceptions of Aging on Objective Physical Functioning and Self-Rated Health" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10276854.