Journal of Behavioral Health and Psychology. 2021; 10(1):(295-322)


Defining the personal determinants of health for older adults

Stephanie MacLeod, Sandra Kraemer, Rifky Tkatch, Annette Fellows, Laurie Albright, Michael McGinn, James Schaeffer and Charlotte S. Yeh

Abstract

Background: Social Determinants of Health, an established concept widely used in research initiatives and policy planning, are generally defined as the broad community-scale conditions shaping daily life. Meanwhile, much less is known about the positive personal, individual resources impacting health outcomes. These have not been defined as part of a separate health-related model, leaving a gap in overall understanding of the non-clinical resources that shape successful aging and quality of life.

Objective: The primary purpose of this commentary is to propose and define a new concept encompassing critical personal resources to be known as the Personal Determinants of Health (PDOH), built on resilience as a key strength and supported by important factors that have shown to help buffer late-life challenges.

Methods: To inform and support this commentary, we conducted a search of relevant research topics to determine whether critical personal resources impacting health outcomes have been defined in the research or mainstream literature.

Results: Notably, we failed to identify any standard definition for Personal Determinants of Health, nor does this term exist in applied interventions. Thus, Personal Determinants of Health is a unique concept that will be centered on key personal resources including resilience at its core.

Conclusions: A clear opportunity exists to define the Personal Determinants of Health as a new psychosocial and behavioral concept impacting health outcomes, and subsequently to help inform and develop initiatives to improve overall health and quality of life, especially in the later-life years.

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