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J Epidemiol Community Health. 2010 Apr;64(4):347-52. doi: 10.1136/jech.2008.081174. Epub 2009 Aug 19.

Sense of coherence and psychological well-being: improvement with age.

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  • 1Centre for Clinical Research, Uppsala University, Central Hospital, 721 89 Västerås, Sweden.



Psychological well-being is important for individuals, communities and health services throughout the world because of the costs associated with psychological ill-health and the loss of quality of life for those affected and their relatives. Following a salutogenic approach, there is a link between health-promoting resources, such as generalised resistance resources and a positive state of health. Generalised resistance resources have been proposed to relate to an individual's sense of coherence (SOC). The objectives of the present study were (i) to investigate SOC in relation to age and sex, (ii) to investigate psychological well-being in relation to age and sex, and (iii) to investigate the relationship between generalised resistance resources and psychological well-being.


A random sample of 43 598 respondents (54% female) aged 18-85 years participated in the present study via a postal survey questionnaire. SOC was measured by the SOC-13 and well-being by the General Health Questionnaire-12 questionnaire.


Males had both stronger SOC and well-being compared to females. There was a relationship between SOC and age, with stronger SOC in the older age groups. There was a larger proportion of individuals who experienced well-being as a function of age. In addition, an increase in SOC was related to a decrease in psychological well-being, that is, a stronger SOC corresponded to higher well-being.


Males showed a stronger SOC and more well-being than females. Moreover, SOC and well-being increased with age in both sexes. Our findings suggest that SOC may develop over a entire lifetime.

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