Gender-related differences in the multi-pathway effect of social determinants on quality of life in older age—the COURAGE in Europe project

Beata Tobiasz-Adamczyk, Aleksander Galas, Katarzyna Zawisza, Somnath Chatterji, Josep Maria Haro, José Luis Ayuso-Mateos, Seppo Koskinen, Matilde Leonardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Gender-related differences in life expectancy, prevalence of chronic conditions and level of disability in the process of ageing have been broadly described. Less is known about social determinants, which may have different impacts on quality of life in men and women. The investigation aims to reveal gender-related differences in social determinants on quality of life assessed by a multi-pathway model including health, social, demographic and living place characteristics. Methods: The study group consisted of 5099 participants aged 50+ representing general populations of three different European regions (Finland, Poland, Spain) who participated in COURAGE in EUROPE Project. Standardized tools were used to measure quality of life (WHOQOL-AGE) and social determinants (COURAGE Social Network Index, OSLO-3 Social Support Scale, UCLA Loneliness Scale, participation scale and trust). A multipath model considering exogenous predictors (demographic, economic), mediators (social) and endogenous outcome (QOL) was created to reveal the role of determinants. Gender-related differences were investigated across three age categories: 50–64; 65–79 and 80+. Results: The model (RMSEA = 0.058; CFI = 0.939) showed the effects of all of the investigated determinants. Gender-related differences in the association between social constructs and QOL were observed for social networks in the group of 80+, for social support in the group of 50–64 and 65–79 years, and for social participation in the group of 65–79 years. Males benefited more (in QOL) from social networks and social support, and women from social participation. Conclusions: The research provides valuable knowledge about the role of social determinants in QOL considering complex relations between different social constructs. Additionally, the results showed gender-related differences in the associations between social networks, social support, social participation and QOL, suggesting that men might benefit more from the interventions in the first two. Although our research did not investigate the effects of interventions, the results show directions for future investigations, how to shape social interventions at the population level to improve quality of life of older adults, and thus help achieve successful ageing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1865-1878
Number of pages14
JournalQuality of Life Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Gender-related differences
  • Loneliness
  • Quality of life
  • Social networks
  • Social participation
  • Social support
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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