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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Attitude Toward Own Aging Among Older Adults: Implications for Cancer Prevention.

  • Author(s): Martin, A'verria
  • Eglit, Graham ML
  • Maldonado, Yadira
  • Daly, Rebecca
  • Liu, Jinyuan
  • Tu, Xin
  • Jeste, Dilip V
  • et al.

Background and objectives

Negative age stereotypes can become internalized and contribute to lower levels of physical and mental well-being in older adults, including those with serious illnesses. The main objective of this study was to examine the relationships of attitude toward own aging (ATOA) with health outcomes after controlling for resilience among older cancer survivors and comparison subjects without cancer, aged 50 years or older.


We examined data in 1,140 adults from the Successful Aging Evaluation (SAGE) study, a structured multi-cohort investigation of community-based adults selected using random digit dialing. There were 219 participants with cancer (excluding skin cancer) and 912 without cancer. ATOA was assessed with the Philadelphia Geriatric Morale Scale, and its relationship with measures of physical, cognitive, and mental health, as well as resilience was evaluated.


Individuals with cancer reported slightly more pessimistic ATOA than individuals without cancer. ATOA correlated with physical and mental health in individuals with and without cancer. Hierarchical linear multiple regression revealed that ATOA contributed significantly to the prediction of physical and mental health after controlling for socio-demographic variables and resilience.

Discussion and implications

Higher levels of positive ATOA appear to be a protective factor for health in older adults, including those with cancer. Interventions that provide education about positive aspects of aging, modify negative automatic thoughts, and promote optimism may be useful for increasing ATOA and thereby improving physical and mental health in older adults, especially those with cancer.

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