Longitudinal Predictors of Attitudes Toward Aging Among Women With Multiple Sclerosis

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Abstract

The purpose of the study was to explore the impact of change in functional limitation (FL), controlling for social support (SS), on attitudes toward aging using longitudinal survey data collected over a 7-year period. The 503 women with multiple sclerosis (MS; age, M = 57 years, SD = 10.25) were mostly Anglo (93%) and married (69%). First, the authors identified a quadratic growth model as the best for describing change in FL. Next, they considered SS as a time-varying covariate of FL to assess both within- and between-individual effects of SS on FL over time. Within individuals, higher FL levels were associated with lower SS levels. Between individuals, level of but not change in FL was associated with average SS level. Finally, average SS and response level and change in FL were studied as predictors of attitudes toward aging, accounting for 38% of the variance. Women with higher FL and lower SS scores had more negative views of aging. Negative views of aging among women with MS may have long-term consequences for their health outcomes as well as for the quality of their later years.

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