Public Release:  Simple tool can boost motivation, improve health in older adults

Boston University Medical Center

(Boston) - Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have identified a tool, the "Getting-Out-of-Bed (GoB) measure" to assess motivation and life outlook in older adults. The study, which appears in the October issue of the Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, shows that the tool has the potential to be an easy-to-use measure to bolster motivation and thus, improve health behaviors and outcomes in the growing population of older adults.

The demographics of aging in the United States continues to change dramatically. In 2006, 37 million Americans, 12 percent of the population were 65 years or older. By 2030, those 65 years and older are projected to number 71.5 million representing nearly 20 percent of the US population. Furthermore, between 1992 and 2004 average inflation-adjusted health care costs for older Americans increased from $8,644 to $13,052 and are expected to continue to rise considerably. According to the researchers, such numbers underscore the importance of understanding common diseases and health behaviors of older adults, because many conditions can be prevented and/or modified with behavioral interventions.

"Motivation and life outlook play an important part in an older adult's ability to recover from illness or disabling events and to maintain and/or adopt health-promoting behaviors," said lead author Kerri Clough-Gorr, DSc, MPH, from the Section of Geriatrics at BUSM.

The researchers conducted telephone interviews on a sample of 660 women with breast cancer from four geographic regions of the country at three and six months intervals. Motivation and life outlook was assessed using GoB questions. Women with GoB scores ≥50 (representing higher motivation) at baseline were statistically significantly more likely at 6 months to have good health-related quality of life, good self-perceived health and report regular exercise than those with scores <50, indicating good predictive ability.

"The ability to identify patients with low motivation establishes an opportunity for health care providers to develop and implement interventions to improve older adults' motivation and to help them attain and maintain a higher quality of health and life. The GoB may help target adequate interventions to bolster motivation and thus improve health behaviors and outcomes in older adults," added Clough-Gorr.

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This study was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute.

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