Good friends, high income or resilience? What matters most for elderly patients?

Vera-Christina Mertens*, Hans Bosma, Danielle A. I. Groffen, Jacques Th. M. van Eijk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: Chronically ill patients need to adapt to their impaired life condition. Social (e.g. social support), material (e.g. income) and personal (e.g. mastery) resources are needed to cope with this challenge. It is, however, less clear whether these factors also contribute to 'relatively successful functioning' and whether these effects are disease specific or generic across chronic diseases. Methods: Baseline data from 361 Dutch men and women aged epsilon 60 years who were mildly depressed and diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were used. These persons participated in the 'Depression in Elderly with Long-Term Afflictions' (DELTA) study. Logistic regression analyses were used to study the independent association of social support, income and mastery (independent variables) with physical, mental and social functioning (dependent variables). Results: A high level of mastery is significantly associated with physical, mental and social functioning in the total study population, as well as in subgroups of patients with COPD or diabetes. This relationship remained significant after controlling for confounding factors such as gender, age, educational level and the other remaining resources. In diabetes patients, high levels of social support and income also contributed significantly to successful social functioning. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that rather than having good friends and a high income, having a high level of mastery (resilience) might best help chronically ill patients in coping with and adapting to their often co-morbid condition. Further longitudinal research is necessary to unravel the long-term effects of mastery, income and social support on 'relatively successful functioning' in chronically ill patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)666-671
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

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