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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1991 Jul;39(7):670-5.

Osteoporosis in late life: does health locus of control affect psychosocial adaptation?

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710.


Osteoporosis, a metabolic bone disease most prevalent in older adults, is a major public health problem. Although management of osteoporosis through diet, exercise, and medication has improved, little is known about the psychosocial consequences of this disabling disease. In an attempt to identify patient characteristics that would provide physicians with insight into appropriate management styles for older osteoporotics, we assessed 103 patients with osteoporosis for their health locus of control (HLOC) orientation. We examined the relationship between HLOC and patient outcomes after participation in the Duke University Preventive and Therapeutic Program for Osteoporosis (DUPATPO) to determine whether HLOC was associated with functioning after program participation. More specifically, we asked whether internal or external HLOC was associated with decreases in depression, psychiatric symptoms, and stress symptoms, or with increases in self-esteem, exercise, and disease knowledge. We have shown in our earlier work (Gold et al, J Am Geriatr Soc 1989; 37:417) that program participation is associated with improved functioning in older adults. We now asked whether knowledge of a patient's HLOC would help predict these improvements. A comparison group (ie, older osteoporotics who did not participate in DUPATPO) was also assessed for HLOC to examine the possible association between HLOC and health behaviors regardless of the DUPATPO intervention. Our findings indicate that HLOC provided little useful information regarding patient outcomes. Although improvements were seen in the mental health of program participants, no association between these improvements and HLOC could be found.

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