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Psychol Sci. 2008 Jun;19(6):537-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02120.x.

Health-engagement control strategies and 2-year changes in older adults' physical health.

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Department of Psychology, Concordia University, Montreal, QC, Canada.


This study examined the associations between older adults' daily physical symptoms (e.g., chest pain or difficulty breathing) and 2-year changes in chronic health problems (e.g., cardiovascular disease or cancer) and in functional problems (e.g., difficulty dressing or moving around at home). We reasoned that these associations depend on a person's active control processes aimed at counteracting physical health problems (i.e., health-engagement control strategies, or HECS). In particular, we hypothesized that high levels of HECS buffer the adverse effect of daily physical symptoms on increases in chronic and functional health problems. We found that daily physical symptoms were associated with declines in chronic and functional health among older adults who were not engaged in addressing their health problems, but not among their counterparts who reported high levels of HECS. These findings suggest that active control strategies play an important role in the maintenance of older adults' physical health.

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