Intentions to seek (preventive) psychological help among older adults: An application of the theory of planned behaviour

Gerben J. Westerhof, Mia Maessen, Renske de Bruijn, Bianca Smets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic

17 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: This article examines the intentions to seek (preventive) psychological help among older persons. The study is carried out from the theory of planned behaviour and distinguishes attitudes (psychological openness), subjective norms (indifference to stigma), and perceived behavioural control (help-seeking propensity) in explaining behavioural intentions with regard to seeking preventive and therapeutic psychological help. Method: 167 Dutch adults between 65 and 75 years of age filled out a questionnaire measuring these concepts. Results: Older adults have low intentions to seek professional help for psychological problems. Their intentions to use preventive help are somewhat higher. Older adults are rather indifferent to stigma and they perceive control, but they are less open to professional help when it comes to their own person. Regression analyses revealed that psychological openness and help-seeking propensity are related to intentions to seek preventive and therapeutic help. Conclusion: Older Dutch adults have stronger behavioural intentions to use preventive psychological help than to use therapeutic psychological help. Psychological openness is the main barrier for them to seek both forms of help
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-322
Number of pages6
JournalAging & mental health
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Attitudes towards seeking help
  • Theory of planned behaviour
  • Older adults


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