Learning Objective 1: The learner will have a better understanding of the factors which may predict poor mental health in women as they age
Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to better response to potential risk factors associated with poor mental health in midlife and older women
Methods: Data on health status, chronic disease and modifiable lifestyle factors were collected from a random sample of 340 women aged 40-65 years, residing in Queensland, Australia in 2011. Structural equation modelling (SEM) was used to measure the effect of a range of socio-demographic characteristics (marital status, age, income), modifiable lifestyle factors (caffeine intake, alcohol consumption, exercise, physical activity, sleep), and health markers (self-reported physical health, history of chronic illness) on the latent construct, mental health. Mental health was evaluated using the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 12 (SF-12®) and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D).
Results: The model was a good fit for the data (χ2 = 40.166, df =312, p 0.125, CFI = 0.976, TLI = 0.950, RMSEA = 0.030, 90% CI = 0.000-0.053); the model suggested mental health was negatively influenced by sleep disturbance (β = -0.628), sedentary lifestyle (β = -0.137), having been diagnosed with one or more chronic illnesses (β = -0.203), and poor self-reported physical health (β = - 0.161). While mental health was associated with sleep, it was not correlated with many other lifestyle factors (BMI (β = -0.050), alcohol consumption (β = 0.079), or cigarette smoking (β = 0.008)) or background socio-demographic characteristics (age (β = 0.078), or income (β = -0.039)).
Conclusion: While research suggests that it is important to engage in a range health promoting behaviours to preserve good health, we found that only sleep disturbance, physical health, chronic illness and level of physical activity predicted current mental health. However, while socio-demographic characteristics and modifiable lifestyle factors seemed to have little direct impact on mental health, they probably had an indirect effect.