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Subjective Well-being in an Adult Swedish Population: Findings from a Population-based Study
Sophiahemmet University.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6109-1992
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This doctoral thesis examines various factors associated with subjective well-being (SWB) in an adult Swedish population, aged 20-64 years, using cross-sectional and longitudinal data. The thesis includes four studies based on the PART study, a current population-based study on mental health, work, and relations in Stockholm County, Sweden. Research has shown that there is a relationship between mental health problems such as depression and low well-being. It is therefore of great interest to investigate various factors associated with SWB in order to promote or increase mental health. We also examined if the well-being scale used in all studies could be used as a screening instrument for depression.

The specific aim of Study I was to examine if age, gender, foreign background (i.e. not born in Sweden), cohabitation, education, financial strain, social support, childhood conditions and negative life events and their associations with SWB could be replicated in our data. In Study II we investigated strategies people chose to employ in order to improve or maintain their well-being and whether these were associated with SWB. Study III examined if changes in cohabiting, social support or the financial situation influenced SWB, after controlling for neuroticism at a 3-year follow-up. The change in the study sample’s SWB was also studied during the same time period. In Study IV the aim was to investigate whether the well-being scale, the (WHO) Ten Well-being index, could be used as a screening instrument for depression.

Results from Study I showed that men had higher SWB than women, and that positive childhood conditions, cohabiting, greater age, sound financial situation, absence of negative life events, and support from friends were all positively associated with SWB. Social support had the strongest relationship. Together, these factors explained 20 % of the variance in SWB and the findings replicated earlier research. The strategies reported in Study II were physical exercise, physical health,engaging in pleasurable activities, relaxation, plan/set limits, social support, professional contacts, positive thinking, and work. Of these, social support, relaxation, physical exercise and physical health were associated with higher SWB. Social support showed the strongest association. In Study III changes in financial situation, social support, or cohabiting influenced SWB after controlling for neuroticism. The results also suggested that SWB was relatively stable over a period of three years. Preliminary findings from Study IV indicate that the (WHO) Ten Well-being index can work as a screening instrument for depression in populationbased samples.

In summary, the findings suggest that demographics and psychosocial factors explain only a small part of the variance in SWB, replicating previous data. Certain self-care strategies are positively associated with SWB. In addition, changes in life circumstances influence SWB, even after controlling for neuroticism over a period of three years despite the stability of SWB. Furthermore, the preliminary findings indicate that the well-being scale can work as a screening instrument for depression in a population-based sample. The overall conclusion from the results of this thesis suggests that it is important for the health care services to be aware that negative life events/circumstances may affect people’s SWB over several years. Furthermore, selfhelp interventions might be important in order to maintain or increase SWB.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Karolinska Institutet , 2009. , 46 p.
Keyword [en]
Subjective well-being, Depression, Life circumstances, Follow-up, Population-based
National Category
Nursing
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:shh:diva-136ISBN: 978-91-7409-275-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:shh-136DiVA: diva2:314366
Public defence
2009-01-30, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2010-04-27 Created: 2010-03-12 Last updated: 2016-06-09Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Well-being in an adult Swedish population
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Well-being in an adult Swedish population
2005 (English)In: Social Indicators Research, ISSN 0303-8300, E-ISSN 1573-0921, Vol. 74, no 2, 313-25 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objectives: The aim of this study was to see if earlier findings about factors associated with well-being could be replicated in a large population-based sample in Sweden. To the best of our knowledge, no research on well-being has been conducted on such a large population in a country, which by most standards is regarded as one of the most fortunate in the world. With its economic wealth and highly developed social welfare and health care system, Sweden is a country where the conditions for a high level of well-being would appear to be met. Methods: 10,441 randomly selected Swedish citizens, aged between 20 and 64 years, living in Stockholm County, completed a questionnaire covering issues such as demographics, social network and psychological well-being. The data were collected during the years 1998-2000. Results: Male gender, greater age, cohabiting, good childhood conditions, support from friends, sound financial situation and absence of negative life events were positively associated with well-being and explained 20% of the variance. Conclusion: The findings replicated earlier studies. Factors associated with well-being seem to remain the same, and are still explaining only a small part of the total variance, despite different measurements, time, sample sizes or country of origin. Therefore, research on well-being needs to take a new turn, by placing less focus on external factors and more focus on the internal factors, such as a person's personality and coping strategies

Keyword
Well-being, Population-based
National Category
Nursing
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:shh:diva-43 (URN)10.1007/s11205-004-6168-6 (DOI)
Available from: 2010-03-02 Created: 2010-02-22 Last updated: 2014-12-03Bibliographically approved
2. What kind of self-care strategies do people report using and is there an association with well-being?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>What kind of self-care strategies do people report using and is there an association with well-being?
2005 (English)In: Social Indicators Research, ISSN 0303-8300, E-ISSN 1573-0921, Vol. 73, no 1, 133-39 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objectives: The aim of this study was to describe what kind of self-care strategies people report using to improve or maintain their well-being. Furthermore, we also wanted to investigate whether reports of using self-care strategies were associated with well-being. Methods: A selected sample (n = 871), aged between 20 and 64 years, living in Stockholm County, answered an open-ended question about self-care strategies. Well-being was assessed using the WHO (Ten) well-being index. Results: Ten different categories were found. The most commonly reported self-care strategy was physical exercise, followed by social support and engaging in pleasurable activities. Physical exercise, social support, relaxation, and physical health were associated with a better well-being, social support being strongest correlated. Conclusion: The results suggest that reports of using certain self-care strategies are associated with a better well-being

Keyword
Mental health, Self-care
National Category
Nursing
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:shh:diva-44 (URN)10.1007/s11205-004-0995-3 (DOI)
Available from: 2010-03-02 Created: 2010-02-22 Last updated: 2014-12-03Bibliographically approved
3. Impact of changes in life circumstances on subjective well-being in an adult population over a 3-year period
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Impact of changes in life circumstances on subjective well-being in an adult population over a 3-year period
2008 (English)In: Public Health, ISSN 0033-3506, E-ISSN 1476-5616, Vol. 122, no 12, 1392-8 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

OBJECTIVES: Mental health problems are a major issue worldwide, and there is a need to further explore factors that may increase or decrease people's subjective well-being (SWB). The main aim of the present study was to extend knowledge concerning changes in cohabitation, social support or financial situation and their influence on SWB, after controlling for personality (i.e. neuroticism), in a 3-year follow-up of an adult population-based sample. The change in overall well-being was also studied during the 3- year interval. STUDY DESIGN: Longitudinal design. METHODS: A random sample of Swedish citizens, aged 20-64 years, residing in Stockholm County received a questionnaire by post, comprising items pertaining to demographics, personality, social support and SWB. All the respondents received a second questionnaire 3 years later. In total, 8324 subjects were included in the present study. RESULTS: The overall well-being of the study sample was relatively stable. Separate analyses of the three life circumstances indicated that, after controlling for personality, positive and negative changes in each sphere of life still affected SWB. CONCLUSIONS: Despite personality and the stability of SWB, these results indicate that changes in financial situation, social support and cohabitation influence SWB. It is important for society and the healthcare services to be aware that a negative change in any of these life circumstances may lead to decreased well-being for a period of at least 3 years.

National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:shh:diva-42 (URN)10.1016/j.puhe.2008.05.020 (DOI)18951593 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2010-03-03 Created: 2010-02-22 Last updated: 2014-12-03Bibliographically approved
4. The WHO (Ten) well-being index as a screening instrument for major depression in i population-based sample
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The WHO (Ten) well-being index as a screening instrument for major depression in i population-based sample
2007 (English)In: European psychiatry, ISSN 0924-9338, Vol. 22, 314-315 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
National Category
Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:shh:diva-45 (URN)
Available from: 2010-03-02 Created: 2010-02-22 Last updated: 2014-12-03Bibliographically approved

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