Quality of life amongst older people in Colombia

The aim of the study was to evaluate the Quality of Life and its relationship with salutogenic and pathogenic variables in 150 Colombian elderly people over 60 years old (x̄ = 72.4, SD = 7.33), 68 of them were men (45.3%) and 82 women (54.7%). To measure quality of life (QoL) we used the CASP-19 scale. We were also interested to look at resilience, and anxiety and depression as potential factors that might be associated with QoL.

Contrasting results between older Colombians study (CEP) and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), whose sample was larger than 6000 people over 60 years (x̄ = 7.61), there were some differences in quality of life (QoL) (see table 1). The Control dimension had a slightly higher average score in the CEP (x̄ = 7.87) than in ELSA. This suggests that older Colombians feel that they are able to actively participate with their environment. The Autonomy dimension had average scores lower in the CEP (x̄ = 8.96) than in ELSA (x̄ = 9.74). This suggests that older Colombians face a lot of external interference when trying to do the things that they want to do. The Pleasure dimension were higher on average in the CEP (x̄ = 10.04) than in ELSA (x̄ = 7.61), indicating that older people in Colombia are generally happy and feel that they can make a commitment to themselves and their life. The Self-realization scores were lower on average in the CEP (x̄ = 13.09) than those in ELSA (x̄ = 13.17). This suggests that older people in Colombia might face some obstacles to fulfilling their goals and potential. Finally, the scores for the overall CASP-19 scale were on average scores slightly lower in the CEP (x̄ = 39.96) than in ELSA (x̄ = 40.96). However, these are still high average scores indicating that older Colombians enjoy a good quality of life in general and that they are conscious of the positive aspects of life.

Table 1. Descriptive statistics of the variables Quality of Life, resilience, anxiety, depression

S.D Minimum Maximum
CASP-19: Quality of Life
-Control 7.87 2.93 0 12
-Autonomy 8.96 2.74 0 15
-Pleasure 10.04 2.36 0 12
– Self-realization 13.09 3.63 0 18
– Total scale CASP-19 39.96 9.06 0 55
CLHLS: Resilience 19.1 4.28 0 25
PHQ-4: Anxiety 1.13 1.29 0 6
PHQ-4: Depression 1.09 1.28 0 6

Nonetheless we also found some negative relationships between certain dimensions of QoL and other variables in the study. Control was negatively associated with anxiety (rho = -0.32: p <0.01) and depression (rho = -0,32: p <, 01). Self-realization was also negatively associated with depression (rho = -0,35: p <, 01). This indicates that depression could be a major factor that reduces QoL in later life in Colombia. As such steps should be taken to combat anxiety and depression amongst older Colombians. Conversely, we found positive relationships between resilience and Control (rho = 0.60: p <0.01), Autonomy (rho = 0.39: p <0, 01), Self-realization (rho = 0.58: p <0.01) and overall CASP-19 scale (rho = 0.70: p <0.01).

The results of this study partially confirm what was found in the research done in England, whose objective was to investigate whether the social context and socioeconomic circumstances, impacted on QoL in later life. The fact, that in this study a large part of the sample were women (54.7%) with an average age of 72 years, of marital status married (48%) that lived with relatives (78.7%), registered in Colombian´s health system (100%), belonging to middle-low strata of the called Colombian Andean culture, at an period where culturally a high matriarchal status is given within family networks, where broad social support is given and received throughout their lives, makes us think that these factors contributed in a significant way to the good results in quality of life found in this study.

Reference: Vinaccia, S., Riveros., García, L., Quiceno, J.M., Martínez, O.V., Martínez, M., y Reyes, K. (2018) Variables sociodemográficas y de salud asociadas a la calidad de vida en adultos mayores Colombianos. Psicología y Salud, 28(1), 73-83

Guest blogger: Stefano Vinaccia Alpi, SANITAS University Foundation, Bogotá

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