12 November 2012

UQ international student, Sofia Robleda, is looking to recruit 150 Australian residents aged 50 years and above to take part in a quality of life and well-being study.

As part of her doctorate in clinical and geropsychology, Ms Robleda’s research aims to find out what it is that makes people feel content or fulfilled and what affects people’s wellness.

“In the past, psychological research has been mainly focused on what leads to psychological disease rather than the important question of what it is that leads to psychological wellness.

“Being healthy is not just about being physically well or not being sick – health is made up of the physical, mental, and social aspects of our lives,” Ms Robleda said.

Quality of life and well-being are two separate concepts, and Ms Robleda explained that it’s a lot more detailed then just asking someone “how are you?”

“Quality of life is more about the particular areas of your life that are most important to you. For example, my quality of life areas are things like my family, my friends, and my service to people as a psychologist, but other people might have completely different ideas about what gives them quality of life,” Ms Robleda said.

“I’ve had people say peace on earth is really important to them, their cats are really important to them, so there is such a huge variability in people’s answers.

“Well-being on the other hand is more focused on different areas like quality of relationships with others, having purpose, growing as a person, having positive self regard and mastering your environment.”

The study aims to see what roles psychological distress, stressful life events, social support, optimism, attitudes and perceptions of aging play in impacting quality of life and well-being in older adults – as these are a demographic Ms Robleda said we need to know more about.

“There is so much research on children, adolescents and young adults, but not that much on people who are aged 50, 60, 70, and 80 – that’s 40 years of people’s lives, so it’s really important to find out what’s going on with this age bracket,” she said.

“We are expecting to have an expanding population of older adults, not just in Australia, but all over the world, so it is imperative to know more about what leads this population to have positive psychological functioning and to know what makes their life worthwhile.”

According to Ms Robleda, this type of research on older adults is a first for Australia and extremely important, because if we know what things influence people’s quality of life and wellbeing, then we’re going to be able to make predictions and provide them with choices on things that will make them healthier and happier.

This study is conducted in an interview format by first year psychology doctoral students, generally at the UQ St Lucia Campus, but there is flexibility in terms of home visits and Skype can be arranged for those people who are outside the city.

For more information on the study, or to participate, please contact Sofia Robleda on 0422 686 429 or sofia.rg@me.com