Exploring the relation between positive emotions and the functional status of older adults living independently: a systematic review

Miriam Cabrita, Sanne M.A. Lamers, Hester R. Trompetter, Monique Tabak, Miriam M.R. Vollenbroek-Hutten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Literature suggests that positive emotions positively influence physiological parameters but their relation to functioning in the daily life of older adults living independently remains unclear. The present work aims to investigate the relation between positive emotions and functional status in daily life of older people living independently.

Method: A systematic literature review was conducted using the PubMed, PsycINFO and Scopus electronic databases. Included works were peer-reviewed empirical studies that analysed the relation between positive emotions and ability to perform activities of daily living with older adults living independently.

Results: After removal of duplicates, 10 out of 963 papers met the inclusion criteria. Cross-sectional studies (n = 6) provided limited evidence about a relation between positive emotions and functioning in daily life. However, longitudinal studies (n = 4) provide significant evidence for an interaction between the two factors, suggesting that time influences this interaction.

Conclusion: The variety on the design and samples of the studies included in this review does not allow a cohesive conclusion of the results. Nevertheless, limited evidence suggests that higher frequency in the experience of positive emotions might be associated with lower functional limitations. The issue of causality in emotions-functioning remains unclear from the review. Further observational studies are highly recommended, supported by innovative technologies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1121-1128
Number of pages8
JournalAging & mental health
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2016



  • EWI-27140
  • IR-101053
  • METIS-318490

Cite this