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versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027


VON HUMBOLDT, Sofia  y  LEAL, Isabel. The promotion of older adults' sense of coherence through Person-Centered Therapy: A randomized controlled pilot study. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2013, vol.30, n.2, pp.235-251. ISSN 1668-7027.

Sense of Coherence (SOC) derived from the salutogenic approach and seems to be a health promoting resource, which strengthens resilience and develops a positive subjective state of health. Older adults' SOC is often challenged by specific issues in later adulthood such as grieving for losses, illness, feelings of worthless and solitude, retirement, disability and death, which require distinctive consideration. To our best knowledge, there are no previous studies that indicated the relation between a person-centered therapy (PCT) and older adults' SOC. Therefore, this study aims to explore if a brief eight-session individual PCT intervention on older adults can promote their SOC, as compared with a control group (waiting list). Specifically, this is a randomized controlled pilot study designed to explore the promotion of SOC through an individual-based PCT intervention. We posited that participants randomized to PCT would report improvements in SOC from the pre- to the post-intervention moments when compared to those on the waiting list. The Orientation to Life Questionnaire (OtLQ) and demographics were assessed at the baseline (t1), post-treatment (t2) and at the 12-month follow-up (t3), in a group of 87 participants between 65 - 86 years (M = 72.4; SD = 5.15), from community and health centers in the Great Lisbon area, in Portugal. Participants were mostly women (59.8%), married (65.5%) and professionally inactive (63.2%). The Cronbach's Alpha coefficients for SOCS were .878, .989, and .988, in the three moments, respectively. Inclusion criteria determined their eligibility to participate in the study. No participant with a compromised cognitive function integrated the sample. All potential participants were given a brief description of the study and gave their informed consent. After the baseline assessment, participants were randomly assigned to one of the two groups. The eight-session intervention was conducted in an adequate setting and with a weekly frequency. Comparisons between the three assessments (t1, t2 and t3) for the two groups were done using Repeated Measures ANOVA. Post-hoc Fisher's Least Significant Difference (LSD) test for mean differences was used to compare the three assessments for the SOC, in each group (PCT and waiting list). After the intervention, a significant increase of 17.3% (M = 3.86, SD = .218) was observed in the participants who did the PCT. The SOC evidence dat follow-up (t3) (M = 3.84, SD = .219) by these participants was significantly higher (16.7%) in comparison to the baseline score (M = 3.29, SD = .245). Conversely, participants in the control group experienced a minor decrease between baseline (M = 3.28, SD = .236) and follow-up (M = 3.19, SD = .244) (- 2.7%). The effect size in the PCT group was high (n2p = .776). Significant differences between the intervention group and the control group were found at the post-intervention and follow-up. Findings also showed that participants in PCT experienced an increment in the three dimensions of SOC. The highest increase was observed in the Comprehensibility dimension (71.2%). Manageability and Meaningfulness sub-scales showed an increase of 32.9% and 12.1%, respectively. Changes in SOC were positive and maintained, thus, findings suggest that PCT is favorable to enhancing SOC. In particular, for the participants who did PCT, the significant increase of their SOC was mainly due to the high increase of the comprehensibility of events. This study contributed to filling a gap in gerontological literature and this intervention has the potential to offer a reasonably low-cost self-regulatory approach to the SOC. In this context, PCT is also a personal resource to promote SOC, in late adulthood. Moreover, since SOC is associated with health-related well-being among older populations, SOC development in old age should be stressed.

Palabras clave : Brief intervention; Control group; Older adults; Person-centered therapy; Sense of coherence.

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