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Health control beliefs in old age-relationship with subjective and objective health, and health behaviour

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The main purpose of this paper is to explore health control beliefs (internality, powerful others, chance) in different age cohorts of elderly people and to examine the relationship between health control beliefs and objective and subjective health, and health behaviour. This contribution shows data from an interdisciplinary longitudinal ageing study: (a) a descriptive analysis of age- and time-correlated changes in health control beliefs of different cohorts of elderly people by taking into account gender as a differential aspect; (b) group comparisons between objectively and subjectively healthy or sick people and their health control beliefs and health relevant behaviour. Participants are 442 community elderly, 309 men, 133 women, aged 65-94 years (mean age: 74.95 years). Our data demonstrate the dominance of chance control beliefs over internality and powerful others in all age cohorts. It can be concluded that internal control remains stable well into old age, whereas a significant age-correlated increase of externality can be observed. Our results show the significant relationship of subjective health self-evaluations with health control beliefs and health behaviour which is not the case for objective health parameters. Strong gender effects are found for internality and social externality: women have significantly lower internality and powerful others scores than men.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 1999

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