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J Aging Health. 2009 Dec;21(8):1063-82. doi: 10.1177/0898264309344682. Epub 2009 Oct 15.

The role of coping resources on change in well-being during persistent health decline.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, VU Medical Centre, Van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081 BT, Amsterdam, Netherlands.



Research in older persons with deteriorating health shows a decrease in well-being. The aim of this study was to examine the role of psychological coping resources in the association between health decline and well-being, in a longitudinal design.


Data were used from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA). Health decline was defined as persistent deterioration of functioning (PDF), persistent decline in cognitive functioning and/or physical functioning, and/or increase of chronic diseases. Measurements of well-being included life satisfaction and positive affect. Measurements of coping resources included self-esteem, mastery, and self-efficacy.


Multivariate linear regression analyses showed that self-efficacy, mastery, and self-esteem mediated the association between PDF and change in well-being. Mastery also was a moderator of the association between PDF and life satisfaction. In older persons with a decreasing mastery, PDF was associated with a significant decrease on life satisfaction; this effect was not observed in older persons with stable or increasing mastery.


This study suggests that coping resources are of importance in explaining associations between persistent health decline and decreasing well-being. Stable or improving mastery even proves to protect older persons with PDF from decreasing well-being.Therefore, it may be of importance to develop interventions for older persons aimed at maintaining or improving psychological coping resources when health declines.

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