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Open Access Research article

Profiles of physical, emotional and psychosocial wellbeing in the Lothian birth cohort 1936

Andrea R Zammit1, John M Starr2, Wendy Johnson3 and Ian J Deary4*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychology, Centre for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH8 9J, UK

2 Geriatric Medicine Unit, Centre for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ, UK

3 Department of Psychology, Centre for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ, UK

4 Department of Psychology, Centre for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, 7 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ, Scotland, UK

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BMC Geriatrics 2012, 12:64  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-12-64

Published: 22 October 2012

Abstract

Background

Physical, emotional, and psychosocial wellbeing are important domains of function. The aims of this study were to explore the existence of separable groups among 70-year olds with scores representing physical function, perceived quality of life, and emotional wellbeing, and to characterise any resulting groups using demographic, personality, cognition, health and lifestyle variables.

Methods

We used latent class analysis (LCA) to identify possible groups.

Results

Results suggested there were 5 groups. These included High (n = 515, 47.2% of the sample), Average (n = 417, 38.3%), and Poor Wellbeing (n = 37, 3.4%) groups. The two other groups had contrasting patterns of wellbeing: one group scored relatively well on physical function, but low on emotional wellbeing (Good Fitness/ Low Spirits,n = 60, 5.5%), whereas the other group showed low physical function but relatively well emotional wellbeing (Low Fitness/Good Spirits, n = 62, 5.7%). Salient characteristics that distinguished all the groups included smoking and drinking behaviours, personality, and illness.

Conclusions

Despite there being some evidence of these groups, the results also support a largely one-dimensional construct of wellbeing in old age—for the domains assessed here—though with some evidence that some individuals have uneven profiles.

Keywords:
Physical wellbeing; Psychosocial wellbeing; Profiles; Latent class analysis