The relation of ego-integrity to mental health in older adults with moderate depressive symptoms

S. Lamers, G. Westerhof, J. Korte, E.T. Bohlmeijer

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    Abstract

    In Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, the psychosocial issue of the last life-stage is centered on ego-integrity versus egodespair. This psychosocial issue is based on life-review and the assumption that older adults reflect upon their past. Integrity involves feelings of meaning and acceptance, whereas despair involves feelings of regret about the course of one’s life. This study examines the relation of ego-integrity to mental health in a sample of Dutch older adults with moderate depressive symptoms (40-82 years; N = 174). This study uses the baseline data of an RCT on the effectiveness of life-review therapy as guided self-help. The Northwestern Ego Integrity Scale was used to measure ego-integrity and ego-despair. Both positive mental health, using the Mental Health Continuum-Short Form, and psychopathology, using the Brief Symptom Inventory were measured. Results show that higher integrity and lower
    despair are related to higher positive mental health, with the strongest relations for integrity. Despair is positively related to psychopathology. Moderator analysis of ego-integrity and age to psychopathology shows that integrity is also negatively related to psychopathology, but only in the youngest age group of 40-55 years. The results remain when controlled for age, gender, educational level and subjective health. In conclusion, both ego-integrity and ego-despair are related to mental health in older adults with moderate depressive symptoms. This suggests that promotion of ego-integrity by increasing feelings of meaning and acceptance in one’s life might be an effective target in interventions to increase older adults’ mental health, such as in life-review therapy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)33-33
    JournalThe Gerontologist
    Volume51
    Issue numberSuppl. 2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2011
    Event64th Annual Scientific Meeting of The Gerontological Society of America 2011: Lifestyle→Lifespan - Boston, United States
    Duration: 18 Nov 201122 Nov 2011
    Conference number: 64

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