Although health is a key element in one's experience of middle adulthood as a time of productivity and personal fulfillment, research on psychosocial factors predictive of mid-life health is sparse, especially for women. Psychosocial variables are not only highly salient to health, but also are potentially modifiable by women themselves. This study employed a multivariate, multitheoretical approach to the study of health, examining a variety of psychosocial predictors (locus of control/mastery, psychological well-being, role quality, social network ties, optimism, and demographic variables) in a secondary analysis of data collected by Baruch and Barnett on 238 women. Subjects were divided into four groups: never married (N=50), married without children (N=54), married with children (N=88), and divorced with children (N=46) and were interviewed in their homes (Brookline, Massachusetts), 1978-79. It was found that 27% of the variance in self-reported health of mothers (whether married or divorced) was accounted for by stress, optimism, employment outside the home, occupational prestige, and quality of experience in the maternal role. Twenty-two percent of the variance in health of married women was explained by stress, quality of experience in the wife role, employment, and occupational prestige. A comparison of the healthiest and the least healthy women revealed that women in better health in middle adulthood had fewer concerns regarding their work, marital roles, and child-rearing roles as compared to their less healthy counterparts. Contains approximately 120 references.
Thomas, S. P. (1992). Psychological predictors of women's physical health in middle adulthood. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 358 386)