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Older people perceived health as going and doing something meaningful

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QUESTION: What constitutes and contributes to the health of older people?


Grounded theory type analysis.


Healthcare facilities of a group practice health maintenance organisation in the US.


22 older individuals who were randomly selected from those whose reported perceived health differed from that predicted by a regression model constructed from data from a randomised trial of a primary care intervention.


Semistructured interviews lasted approximately 45 minutes and took place in participants' homes or in healthcare facilities. Questions targeted perceptions of health; wellbeing; valued abilities, activities, and relationships; social support; control; sense of coherence; and personal outlook. Analysis of the interviews employed grounded theory type immersion into the material. This process led to the identification of a central phenomenon and the relation of other factors with it.

Main findings

For these older individuals, health meant going and doing something meaningful. Going meant more than mobility and doing meant …

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  • Sources of funding: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Chronic Care Initiative to the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado and Graduate Research Opportunities Program of the University of Colorado at Denver.

  • For correspondence: Dr L Bryant, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver CO, USA. lucinda.bryant{at}