The impact of life events on adult physical and mental health and well being: longitudinal analysis using the GoWell Health and Well-being Survey

Cleland, C., Kearns, A. , Tannahill, C. and Ellaway, A. (2016) The impact of life events on adult physical and mental health and well being: longitudinal analysis using the GoWell Health and Well-being Survey. BMC Research Notes, 9, 470. (doi: 10.1186/s13104-016-2278-x) (PMID:27760568) (PMCID:PMC5070029)

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Background: It is recognised that life events (LEs) which have been defined as incidents necessitating adjustment to habitual life either permanently or temporarily, not only have the potential to be detrimental to health and well-being, but research suggests some LEs may be beneficial. This study aimed to determine the individual and cumulative occurrence of LEs; and to establish their effect on health and well-being. Results: Demographic factors (gender, age and highest educational attainment), LE occurrence and self-reported health data were collected as part of the longitudinal GoWell community health and wellbeing survey (2008–2011). Self-reported health was measured using the SF-12 questionnaire for physical (SF-12 PCS) and mental health (SF-12 MCS) and the Warwick–Edinburgh mental well-being scale (WEMWBS) for well-being. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSSv21 and level of significance was set at p < 0.05. Results showed that the sample was 61.6 % (n = 768) female; 20.4 % (n = 254) were aged 16–39 years, 46.1 % (n = 575) 40–64 years and 33.5 % (n = 418) were over 65 years; 68.8 % (n = 819) had no qualifications/Scottish leaving certificates, with the remaining 31.2 % (n = 372) having their highest educational qualification above Scottish leaving certificates. Health score means were 49.3 SF-12 mental health component score (SF-12 MCS); 42.1 SF-12 physical health component score (SF-12 PCS); and 49.2 WEMWBS. Participants experienced 0–7 LEs over a three year period, with the most common being: housing improvement (44.9 %), house move (36.8 %), health event (26.3 %) and bereavement (25.0 %). Overall, an increase in LEs was associated with a health score decrease. Five LEs (relationship breakdown, health event, bereavement, victimisation and house move) had negative impacts on SF-12 MCS and two (new job/promotion and parenthood) had positive impacts. For SF-12 PCS only three (health event, bereavement and housing improvement) had a negative impact. Six (health event, victimisation, bereavement, relationship breakdown housing move and improvement) had negative impacts on well-being and two (new job/promotion, marriage) had positive effects. Conclusions: Findings from the current study confirm LEs have both detrimental and beneficial impacts on health and well-being. Further research is required to disentangle the complexity of LEs and the ways they affect health and well-being.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kearns, Professor Ade and Tannahill, Dr Carol and Ellaway, Dr Anne and Cleland, Dr Claire
Authors: Cleland, C., Kearns, A., Tannahill, C., and Ellaway, A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Journal Name:BMC Research Notes
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN (Online):1756-0500
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 The Authors
First Published:First published in BMC Research Notes 9:70
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
727621SPHSU Core Renewal: Neighbourhoods and Communities Research ProgrammeAnne EllawayMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/10IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU