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Open Access Research article

Gender differences in Greek centenarians. A cross-sectional nation-wide study, examining multiple socio-demographic and personality factors and health locus of control

Xanthi Tigani1*, Artemios K Artemiadis2, Evangelos C Alexopoulos2, George P Chrousos12 and Christina Darviri2

Author Affiliations

1 First Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital Aghia Sofia, School of Medicine, University of Athens, Thivon & Papadiamantopoulou Str., GR-115-27, Athens, Greece

2 Postgraduate Course Stress Management and Health Promotion, School of Medicine, University of Athens, Soranou Ephessiou Str., 4, GR-115-27, Athens, Greece

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BMC Geriatrics 2011, 11:87  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-11-87

Published: 21 December 2011

Abstract

Background

Centenarians are exceptional ageing paradigms, offering valuable information on achieving longevity. Although, there are several studies examining different biomedical factors as determinants of longevity in centenarians, little is known about gender differences with respect to personality traits and health locus of control.

Methods

Nation -wide study carried out in Greece, between 2007 and 2010. Our final sample of analysis consisted of 400 centenarians who reported on sociodemographic, disease-related and personality factors and health locus of control (HLC). Gender differences were investigated by simple nonparametric comparisons. Bivariate correlations between personality factors and internal and external HLC were obtained.

Results

Women centenarians outnumbered men by a ratio of 1.68 to 1. Significant gender sociodemographic differences were noted, with men reporting less often widowhood, more often centenarian 1st degree relatives and smoking. Higher BMI score was measured in males than females. Concerning personality variables, females were more reward-dependent and adaptable than men, while men were more optimistic than women. No differences were found on health locus of control profile between the genders. Positive correlations between self-directness and spirituality with internal locus of control in men and negative correlations between optimism and external locus of control in women emerged as the main gender disparities in the correlation analyses. Self-directness in men and optimism in women were consistently correlated with the two HLC subscales.

Conclusions

Gender differences should be incorporated in future basic research and epidemiological studies of longevity. Informed policies on ageing and wellbeing programs should also take into account gender issues to increase efficacy by targeting health locus of control.

Keywords:
centenarians; Greece; gender; longevity; personality