Date of Award

2001

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Psychology

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Ken Robinson

Second Advisor

Deborah Dawson

Abstract

Over one third of individuals aged sixty years and older have health conditions which limit their ability to live an independent and active life. With the older Australian population increasing, the prevention of functional decline and preservation of wellbeing in this age group has become a major clinical focus in gerontology research. Therefore an important goal of health professionals is to identify behavioural factors which encourage wellbeing and quality of life in this age group. The purpose of the present study was to explore the importance of physical activity passive activity (activities such as craft, reading and board games) and social support on health-related quality of life. Activity, measured by number of hours in activities performed over a month, and social support, measured on the Duke Social Support Index (DSSI) were the predictor variables. The criterion variables were the physical and mental component of the Short Form 36 health-related quality of life scale. Results were analysed using two standard multiple regressions, using as predictor variables physical activity, passive activity and social support. The predictor variables were found to significantly explain only 13% of the variance in the physical component of the SF-36. Physical activity, uniquely predicted 9% of the variance. No other significant associations were found. The explained variance was smaller than expected, and this is likely to have occurred due to limitations of sampling characteristics. However, the findings did suggest that physical activity is an important predictor of the physical health-related quality of life in older people. The results suggested that physical activity played a more important role than passive activity and social support in determining physical health-related quality of life. As might be expected, a positive relationship was found between physical activity and physical health-related quality of life suggesting that an increase in physical activity was associated with an increase in physical health-related quality of life. The results of the present study supported previous research suggesting that increases in levels of physical activity have potential health benefits for individuals aged sixty years and older. Thus health and community organisations may need to focus on ways in which to enhance the participation levels of physical activity in this age group

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