University of Washington

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

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The relationship of age-related factors to psychological functioning among people with disabilities


Bombardier CH, Ehde DM, Stoelb B, Molton IR



Publication Info:

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Clinics of North America, 21(2):281-297


The potential influence of age and aging on the psychological functioning of people with disabilities is surprisingly complex. In people with spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis, depression is highly prevalent. The limited research in this area indicates that older age and greater time span since disability onset may be associated with less self-reported depressive symptoms. Posttraumatic growth (PTG) and benefit finding (BF) are also common in people with disabilities. Older age tends to be associated with less BF and PTG. Studies that use longitudinal designs and examine multiple age-related factors simultaneously are needed. Potential mediators of age-related effects, such as historical trends, life-cycle events, maturity, and declining health, also need to be examined. There are many interesting theoretic and empiric concepts from aging research that can inform future research on the psychological aspects of aging with disability.

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