What predicts mental health in midlife and older women? Results from the Australian Healthy Aging of Women Study

Seib, Charrlotte & Anderson, Debra J. (2012) What predicts mental health in midlife and older women? Results from the Australian Healthy Aging of Women Study. In Women's Health International Congress on Women’s Health, International Council on Women's Health Issues, 14-16 November 2012, Bangkok, Thailand. (Unpublished)

Abstract

Objectives

  • Previous research has linked unhealthy lifestyle with a range of negative health outcomes in women. As women age however, they may have fewer performance expectations, but may view their health more positively. Clearly, the experiences of midlife and older women in relation to health and wellbeing need further exploration. The purpose of this study is to examine the factors associated with poor health-related quality of life in midlife (HRQoL) and older Australian women.

Methods

  • The Australian longitudinal Healthy Aging of Women (HOW) study prospectively examines HRQoL, chronic disease and modifiable lifestyle factors midlife and older women as they age. Random sampling was used to select rural and urban based women from South-East Queensland, Australia. Data were collected from 386 women at three time points over the last decade (2001, 2004 and 2011).

Results

  • The average age of women in this study was 65 years (SD = 2.82). Almost three-quarters (73%, n = 248) of the sample were married or living as though married, nine per cent (n = 30) were separated or divorced and a small proportion were had never married (n = 13). Most (86%, n = 291) of the women sample reported being Australian born, around one quarter (34%, n = 114) had completed additional study since leaving school (university degree or diploma). Over half (55%, n = 186) of participants were retired, one quarter (25%, n = 85) were in paid employment and the remained were unemployed (1%, n = 4), unable to work because of illness (2%, n = 6) or worked within the home (17%, n = 56). Using data collected over time we examined the relationship between a range of modifiable lifestyle factors and mental health using structural equation modelling. The overall model exhibited a good fit with the data. Poor sleep quality was associated with reduced mental health while better mental health was reported in women who exercised regularly and satisfied with their currently weight. As hypothesized, past mental health was a significant mediator of current mental health.

Conclusions

  • These findings demonstrate that the mental health of women is complex and needs to be understood not only in terms of current lifestyle but also in relation to previously reported health status.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 75350
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: women's health, aging, mental health, predictors
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Please consult the authors
Deposited On: 01 Sep 2014 01:13
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2016 19:00

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