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Aging and Health: Effects of the Sense of Control

Science
19 Sep 1986
Vol 233, Issue 4770
pp. 1271-1276

Abstract

The relation between health and a sense of control may grow stronger in old age. This could occur through three types of processes: experiences particularly relevant to control may increase markedly in old age; the association between control and some aspect of health may be altered by age; and age may influence the association between control and health-related behaviors or the seeking of medical care. Studies show that there are detrimental effects on the health of older people when their control of their activities is restricted; in contrast, interventions that enhance options for control by nursing home patients promote health. With increasing age, however, variability in preferred amounts of control also increases, and sometimes greater control over activities, circumstances, or health has negative consequences including stress, worry, and self-blame. Mechanisms mediating the control-health relation include feelings of stress, symptom labeling, changes in the neuroendocrine and immune systems, and behavior relevant to health maintenance.

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Science
Volume 233 | Issue 4770
19 September 1986

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Published in print: 19 September 1986

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Judith Rodin
Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520

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