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The European Journal of Psychiatry

Print version ISSN 0213-6163


COSCO, Theodore D et al. Whose "successful ageing"?: lay- and researcher-driven conceptualisations of ageing well. Eur. J. Psychiat. [online]. 2014, vol.28, n.2, pp.124-130. ISSN 0213-6163.

Background and Objectives: To date, there is no consensus definition of successful ageing (SA). In the literature, conceptualisations of SA are generally researcher-driven operational definitions or layperson perspectives. The current study aims to systematically review and compare quantitative operational definitions of SA with qualitative, layperson perspectives of SA. Methods: PubMed, PsycInfo, ISI Web of Knowledge, EmBase and CINAHL databases were searched using the words "successful ageing" and related terms. Peer-reviewed studies positing quantifiable operational definitions of SA were included, as were studies that conducted exploratory qualitative study of layperson perspectives of SA. Results: Marked differences in the focus of SA conceptualizations between researchers and laypersons were revealed. Qualitative studies demonstrated a greater emphasis on psychosocial aspects of SA, such as attitude whilst quantitative studies were generally biomedically focused, e.g. physical functioning/disability. Conclusions: Little concordance in classification of SA is found across the two perspectives such that an individual may be simultaneously classified as unsuccessfully ageing from a biomedical approach and successfully ageing from a layperson perspective. Most studies have been conducted in North America and the UK using non-clinical populations, resulting in limitations on generalizability. Alternative perspectives of SA must be taken into consideration in the practical application of SA.

Keywords : Successful ageing; Lay perspectives; Operational definitions; Healthy ageing.

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