Meaning in life and mastery mediate the relationship of negative reminiscence with psychological distress among older adults with mild to moderate depressive symptoms

Jojanneke Korte*, Philippe Cappeliez, Ernst Thomas Bohlmeijer, Gerben Johan Westerhof

*Corresponding author for this work

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To understand the adaptive value of reminiscence, a mediational model of reminiscence was tested in a sample of older adults with mild to moderate depressive symptoms. Using structural equation modeling, we investigated if psychological resources (mastery and meaning in life) mediate the relation between reminiscence (positive: identity construction and problem solving; and negative: bitterness revival and boredom reduction) and psychological distress (depressive symptoms and anxiety symptoms). A total of 202 older Dutch adults living in the community participated in this study. The present study consisted of baseline measurements of a randomized controlled trial that evaluated the effectiveness of a life-review therapy intervention on depression. Results showed that psychological resources fully mediated the relation between negative reminiscence and psychological distress. Specifically, negative reminiscing is related to decreased psychological distress through meaning in life and sense of mastery. The study contributes to current knowledge on the relation between reminiscence and mental health, both empirically and clinically. It helps to increase understanding of how reminiscence is related to psychological distress, especially in depressed older adults, and the relative importance of psychological resources, i.e., mastery and meaning in life. From a clinical perspective, these findings suggest the usefulness of focusing on strengthening psychological resources in therapeutic reminiscence-based strategies for older adults with depressive symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-351
JournalEuropean journal of ageing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Adaptation
  • Reminiscence
  • Mastery
  • Meaning in life
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Anxiety symptoms

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