Document Type


Publication Date

October 2005


Slides from a presentation to the Gerontological Society of American Conference, October 2005.


Lawton et al. (1999) defined valuation of life (VOL) as a cognitive-affective schema consisting of complex judgments, emotions and projections influenced by demographic and QOL factors. However, little is known about what constitutes VOL for frail elders. The present study evaluated the psychometric properties of a 13-item version of Lawton et al's. (2001) VOL Scale and examined correlational evidence in support of its construct validity with 319 elders enrolled in the Project ABLE study. Responses of half the sample (N=159) were submitted to principal axis factoring, yielding two factors (spiritual well-being, a = .88 and goal-related self-efficacy, a = .84), accounting for 56% of the variance. For remaining elders (N = 160), reliability analyses indicated that the 13-item VOL was internally consistent (a = .91). We expected and found that low depression (p = .000), high mastery (p = .000) and greater use of control strategies (p = .000) were predictive of VOL (R 2 = .42, p = .000), spiritual well-being (R 2 = .38, p = .000) and goal-related self-efficacy (R 2 = .31, p = .000), but falls and cognitive status were not. Participants' social support and race were also associated with VOL with non-whites scoring higher on VOL (M = 53.6 vs. M = 48.2). VOL is a complex construct composed of two dimensions, spiritual well-being and confidence in goal pursuit. These dimensions suggest that behavioral and cognitive activation is central to understanding how older adults appraise or value their life. (Study funded by NIA #AG 13687)