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Subjective wellbeing in older adults living in Tomsk Region

Name
Daniele
Surname
Didino
Scientific organization
National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University
Academic degree
PhD
Position
Post-doc
Scientific discipline
Humanities & Social sciences
Topic
Subjective wellbeing in older adults living in Tomsk Region
Abstract
This study investigates the subjective wellbeing of older adults living in Tomsk Region. We administered 2 questionnaires. In each questionnaire 600 respondents (aged 65 years or over) were interviewed face-to-face. We evaluated how life satisfaction is affected by demographic factors (e.g., age, gender, etc.), social aspects (e.g., social network, isolation and comparison, etc.), psychological characteristics (e.g., depression, dispositional optimism). Both questionnaires provided new and interesting insights about the subjective wellbeing of Siberian older adults.
Keywords
Survey; Cross-sectional study; Subjective wellbeing; Life satisfaction; Older adults; Tomsk Region
Summary

Introduction

Twenty-eight percent of the Russian population will be aged 60 years or over by 2050. This demographic phenomenon change will generate socio-economics and political challenges that will require to better understand the factors affecting subjective wellbeing in older adults. In this study we aim at exploring which variables affect the subjective wellbeing (e.g., life satisfaction or happiness) of older adults living in Siberia. More precisely we interviewed older adults living in Tomsk Region. This region has a population of about 1 million people, and twelve per cent of them (approximately 50.000 people) are older adults. Little research has been conducted on subjective wellbeing of Siberian older adults. Therefore, this study provides original and new data concerning the quality of life of these older adults.

Subjective wellbeing reflect the psychological aspect of the global experience of one’s life. For older adults, a high level of subjective wellbeing has been associated with successful ageing, and thus with many positive outcomes, like for example good health and being economically self-sufficient. In this study we investigated two important components of subjective wellbeing: life satisfaction and happiness. Life satisfaction refers to the cognitive-judgmental aspects of subjective wellbeing; whereas happiness refers to the affective and emotional aspects of this construct. These two components measure closely related but distinct aspects of subjective wellbeing and thus can provide an evaluation of which factors affect overall quality of life from two different points of view, a cognitive evaluation of respondents’ situation and a description of their feelings.

Life satisfaction and happiness are associated with a large number of socio-demographic factors. In this survey, we included questions related on the factors that, according to the literature, showed to have a strong impact on subjective wellbeing. Therefore, the following factors have been included in our survey: social support (e.g., provide or receive help from people they are close to), social activities (e.g., taking care of grandchildren), emotional support (i.e., feeling appreciated by close people), self-reported health, economical situation, age, gender, marital status, education level, and the place of living. In the analyses these factors have been used as possible predictors of life satisfaction and happiness.

In this study we administered a questionnaire to older adults living in Tomsk Region. The aim was to identify the factors affecting their subjective wellbeing (i.e., life satisfaction and happiness). Life satisfaction and happiness have been considered as independent constructs and analyzed in two separated logistic regressions. A second questionnaire will be administered in June/July 2016. This second questionnaire aims to further investigate some aspect that showed to be significantly related with subjective wellbeing in the first questionnaire.

 

 

Methods and material

Respondents and Procedure

A cross-sectional study was conducted in Tomsk Region (Siberian Federal District, Russia). We administered a questionnaire through face-to-face interviews conducted in respondents’ homes. Six hundred respondents were randomly recruited through quota sampling. All respondents were aged 65 years or over. In each family unit, only one older adult was interviewed. All interviews were conducted in Russian by mother-tongue interviewers. Each interview lasted 40-60 minutes. Verbal informed consent was obtained from all respondents prior to the interview. Each respondent received a standard set of gift (e.g., tea, chocolate, etc.) for the participation.

The questionnaire was carried out between August and September 2015 by an organization with experience in survey research. The questionnaire included 99 items aimed at investigating difference aspect of older adults’ life. To investigate which factors are associated with life satisfaction and happiness in our sample, we selected a sub-set of these questions. More precisely, we selected the questions relating to social aspects and demographic characteristics.

Of the 600 questionnaires, 111 had missing responses on one or more variable of interest, and thus were excluded from the analysis. Therefore, the final sample included 489 respondents.

A second questionnaire will be carried out in June/July 2016. The methodology and the procedure will be the same as for the first questionnaire. A new sample of 850 respondents living in Tomsk will be interviewed.

Measurements

Some of the questions were originally in English. These questions have been translated into Russian using the standard method of back-translation. Two separated logistic regression have been performed, with the following two dependent variables: Life satisfaction and happiness.

The predictors (i.e., independent variable) were questions that investigated the following factors: Caring for your children and grandchildren, receiving and providing social support, emotional support, self-rated health, satisfaction with standard of living, age, gender, marital status, educational level, and residence area.

Similar analyses will be performed on the second questionnaire.

 

Results

The mean age of respondents was 74.4 year (SD=6.9), with 324 women and 165 men. The mean value of life satisfaction was 5.9 (SD=2.4) and the mean value of happiness was 6.2 (SD=2.1). The correlation between life satisfaction and happiness was 0.55.

Life satisfaction was significantly associated with the following factors: Self-reported health; satisfaction with standard of living; place of living; receiving help; taking care of children and grandchildren; emotional support.

Happiness was significantly associated with the following factors: Self-reported health;  providing help; emotional support.  

 

Discussion

In this study we investigated which factors are related with life satisfaction and happiness, which are two important components of subjective wellbeing. Consistently with the literature, we found that different socio-demographic variables are associated with life satisfaction and happiness. Our results contribute to show that life satisfaction and happiness are similar but different components of subjective wellbeing. In fact, the predictors of these two components only partially overlap, and thus it is useful to measure both these components to have a global view of subjective wellbeing.

The follow-up questionnaire, that we will administered in June/July 2016, will provide further evidence on the factors affecting subjective wellbeing. In this second questionnaires life satisfaction and other factors will be measured by means of Likert scales. This will provide a more precise measure of subjective wellbeing. Moreover, we will translate and adapt to Russian language some Likert scale, which have been developed in English but not yet tested and validated in Russian language. These scale will furnish Russian researchers with new measures useful to study subjective wellbeing and to compare the results with those of other countries.