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Staying Motivated After Illness

October 9, 2009
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine have identified a tool called the "Getting-Out-of-Bed (GoB) measure" to assess motivation and life outlook in older adults. Their study, which appears in the October issue of the Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, shows that the tool has the potential to be an easy-to-use measure to bolster motivation and improve health behaviors and outcomes in the growing population of older adults. In 2006, 37 million Americans, 12 percent of the population were 65 years or older. By 2030, those 65 years and older are projected to number 71.5 million, nearly 20 percent of the US population. According to the researchers, these numbers underscore the importance of understanding common diseases and health behaviors of older adults because many conditions can be prevented and/or modified with behavioral interventions. "Motivation and life outlook play an important part in an older adult’s ability to recover from illness or disabling events and to maintain and/or adopt health-promoting behaviors," said lead author Kerri Clough-Gorr, DSc, MPH, from the section of Geriatrics at BUSM. The researchers conducted telephone interviews on a sample of 660 women with breast cancer from four areas of the country at three- and six-month intervals. Motivation and life outlook was assessed using “GoB” questions. Women with GoB scores above 50 (representing higher motivation) at baseline were statistically significantly more likely at 6 months to have good health-related quality of life, good self-perceived health and report regular exercise than those with scores below 50, indicating good predictive ability. "The ability to identify patients with low motivation establishes an opportunity for health care providers to develop and implement interventions to improve older adults’ motivation and to help them attain and maintain a higher quality of health and life. The GoB may help target adequate interventions to bolster motivation and thus improve health behaviors and outcomes in older adults," added Clough-Gorr.