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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Cross-sectional validation of the Aging Perceptions Questionnaire: a multidimensional instrument for assessing self-perceptions of aging

Maja Barker, Ann O'Hanlon, Hannah M McGee*, Anne Hickey and Ronan M Conroy

Author Affiliations

Department of Psychology, Division of Population Health Sciences, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland

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BMC Geriatrics 2007, 7:9  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-7-9

Published: 26 April 2007

Abstract

Background

Self-perceptions of aging have been implicated as independent predictors of functional disability and mortality in older adults. In spite of this, research on self-perceptions of aging is limited. One reason for this is the absence of adequate measures. Specifically, there is a need to develop a measure that is theoretically-derived, has good psychometric properties, and is multidimensional in nature. The present research seeks to address this need by adopting the Self-Regulation Model as a framework and using it to develop a comprehensive, multi-dimensional instrument for assessing self-perceptions of aging. This study describes the validation of this newly-developed instrument, the Aging Perceptions Questionnaire (APQ).

Methods

Participants were 2,033 randomly selected community-dwelling older (+65 yrs) Irish adults who completed the APQ alongside measures of physical and psychological health. The APQ assesses self-perceptions of aging along eight distinct domains or subscales; seven of these examine views about own aging, these are: timeline chronic, timeline cyclical, consequences positive, consequences negative, control positive, control negative, and emotional representations; the eighth domain is the identity domain and this examines the experience of health-related changes.

Results

Mokken scale analysis showed that the majority of items within the views about aging subscales were strongly scalable. Confirmatory factor analysis also indicated that the model provided a good fit for the data. Overall, subscales had good internal reliabilities. Hierarchical linear regression was conducted to investigate the independent contribution of APQ subscales to physical and psychological health and in doing so determine the construct validity of the APQ. Results showed that self-perceptions of aging were independently related to physical and psychological health. Mediation testing also supported a role for self-perceptions of aging as partial mediators in the relationship between indices of physical functioning and physical and psychological health outcomes.

Conclusion

Findings support the complex and multifaceted nature of the aging experience. The good internal reliability and construct validity of the subscales suggests that the APQ is a promising instrument that can enable a theoretically informed, multidimensional assessment of self-perceptions of aging. The potential role of self-perceptions of aging in facilitating physical and psychological health in later life is also highlighted.