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Prev Med. 2004 Sep;39(3):625-9.

Preventive health behaviors influenced by self-perceptions of aging.

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Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8034, USA.



Research has found that the elderly are the age group that is the least likely to engage in preventive health behaviors, even though these behaviors continue to benefit individuals throughout the life span. We investigated for the first time whether an age-specific factor, older individuals' beliefs about their own aging, predicts their likelihood of engaging in preventive health behaviors over time.


We conducted multivariate linear regression to test the predictive value of aging self-perceptions on the preventive health behaviors of 241 individuals, who participated in the Ohio Longitudinal Study of Aging and Retirement (OLSAR) aged 50-80 years old. The preventive health behaviors included eating a balanced diet, exercising, and following directions for taking prescribed medications.


Individuals with more positive self-perceptions of aging tended to practice more preventive health behaviors over the next two decades after controlling for age, education, functional health, gender, self-rated health, and race (P = 0.032).


Our findings suggest that addressing views about aging could help improve efforts to increase preventive health behaviors in the older population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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