Role of emotion regulation and internal ageism on adjustment and satisfaction with retirement
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Objectives: This thesis includes two distinct pieces of work. The purpose of the systematic review was to address a gap in the literature by examining available evidence relating to the use of Emotional Regulation (ER) strategies (avoidance, problem solving, reappraisal, rumination, and suppression) on the wellbeing of older people. The empirical paper aimed to examine the role of ER strategies and ageism on adjustment and retirement satisfaction. It also sought to examine the impact of other contextual factors such as financial status, health, and social support on retirement wellbeing. Methods: A systematic review of cross-sectional studies examining a quantitative association between one aspect of ER (avoidance, problem-solving, reappraisal, rumination and /or suppression) and a self-reported quantitative well-being measure was completed via a comprehensive literature search of electronic databases. Studies were included if the participants were 60 years or older and without cognitive impairment. Wellbeing was explored in a broader way not only including measures of the absence of illness but positive constructs such as positive affect, positive social relations or autonomy. In the empirical study, participants completed a postal survey which included ER strategies, attitudes to ageing, adjustment and satisfaction with retirement and contextual factors such as financial status, health and social support. A series of hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted to examine the independent contributions of ER strategies and attitudes to aging to adjustment to, and satisfaction with, retirement. Results: Twenty studies met inclusion criteria for the systematic review. The relationship between life satisfaction, positive emotion and ER was explored by four studies while nineteen out of twenty studied the relationship between ER and anxiety and depression. Only a conclusion about ER and negative mood measures could be made given the scarcity of research examining the association between ER and positive psychological concepts. Rumination was found to be the ER strategy most strongly associated with symptoms of anxiety and depression in OP population, while mixed results were found for avoidance, problem solving, suppression and reappraisal. Findings from the empirical study indicated that traditional predictors of adjustment (wealth and health) accounted for 12% of the total variance in outcome. Problem-solving was the strongest variable in the model explaining 24% of the difference in adjustment. Interestingly, the retirees who reported not having used problem-solving as a mechanism to cope with retirement were the most adjusted. Regarding satisfaction, retirees tended to experience higher retirement satisfaction if they had a greater level of self-rated mental health and increased access to household income (explained 14% and 9% of the total variance respectively). However, retirees who reported high levels of rumination experienced lower retirement satisfaction (rumination accounted for 8% of the total variance). Ageism was not a predictor of retirement adjustment or satisfaction. Conclusions: According to the systematic review, rumination seems to be the ER strategy most strongly associated with symptoms of anxiety and depression in OP population. This finding was consistent despite the heterogeneity of the studied populations and a variety of outcome measures. Further research is needed to explore the impact of ER strategies on measures of physical health and wellbeing in OP. The results of the empirical paper support the role of traditional predictors (wealth and health) in satisfaction and adjustment with retirement. The retirees who adjusted better to retirement were those who did not use problem-solving as a strategy to confront retirement. Retirees who reported high levels of rumination experienced lower retirement satisfaction. Ageism did not predict retirement satisfaction or adjustment. These findings are discussed in the context of retirement planning and successful ageing.