Cross-cultural comparison between academic and lay views of healthy ageing: a literature review

L.W. Hung*, G.I.J.M. Kempen, N.K. de Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review

66 Citations (Web of Science)


The aim of this study is to specify the concept of 'healthy ageing' from both western and non-western cultural perspectives, and to compare the views of academics and lay older people. Thirty-four published peer-reviewed full papers in English and Chinese (traditional characters) were identified using electronic database searches. The key components of their definitions of healthy ageing were extracted and categorised into 12 domains. The results show that, in general, lay definitions (as described in 11 studies) included more domains (independency, family, adaptation, financial security, personal growth, and spirituality) and more diversity in the healthy ageing concept than academic views (which tend to locus more on physical and mental health and social functioning in later life). Certain domains were valued differently across cultures. As shown in previous studies, the findings affirm that healthy ageing is a multi-dimensional and complex concept and that there are substantial differences in different cultures. Moreover, we found that there are pronounced variations in the conceptualisation of healthy ageing as between academic and older lay people. Generally, older lay people perceive healthy ageing more broadly than the maintenance of physical, mental and social functioning. We suggest that academic researchers should integrate the more holistic perspectives of older lay people and cultural diversity into the classical 'physical-mental-social' healthy ageing. concept.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1373-1391
Number of pages19
JournalAgeing & Society
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


  • healthy ageing
  • successful ageing
  • ageing well
  • cross-cultural
  • academic views
  • lay perspectives
  • quality of life
  • literature review
  • LIFE
  • MEN
  • AGE

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