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Fam Pract. 2011 Apr;28(2):145-55. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmq082. Epub 2010 Nov 17.

Do older and younger people differ in their reported well-being? A national survey of adults in Britain.

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Faculty of Health and Social Care, St George's, University of London and Kingston University, London, UK.



To document population perceptions of well-being and predictors of self-assessed well-being.


National face-to-face interview survey of adults aged ≥16 years, conducted by the Office for National Statistics for their Omnibus Survey in Britain (response 58%; 1049 of 1823 eligible).


People aged 65+ years were more likely than younger people to define well-being as being able to continue to do the things they had always done. Most men and women, in all age groups, rated their well-being and mental well-being positively. Self-rated health, mental health symptoms, long-standing illness and social support were the main drivers of overall well-being in all age groups. Mental health symptoms, long-standing illness and social support were the main drivers of mental well-being. For example, in reduced multivariable models, those who reported no long-standing illness had almost twice the odds of others, of good, rather than not good, overall well-being, and over three times the odds of good, rather than not good, mental well-being. The odds of good versus not good overall well-being were also multiplied by 1.002 for each additional available person for comfort and support and similarly by 1.073 in relation to mental well-being.


Understanding the drivers of well-being among adults, including older adults, is of high policy importance. Attention should be focused on improvements in population health and functioning and on encouraging younger and older people to develop and maintain social support networks and engagement in social activities.

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