Aging, Community and Health Research Group (ACHRU)

McMaster University

Funded by

Study 17

Explaining the Well-Being Paradox among Older Adults with Multiple Chronic Conditions


There is a growing number of older adults in Canada. These older adults often live with multiple chronic health conditions as well as depressive symptoms. Together with other health conditions, depressive symptoms can cause decreased health-related quality of life, increase the chance of developing other health conditions, and increase the use of expensive health services. Despite these challenges, when asked “In general, how would you rate your health?” some older adults still report their health positively. This is called the well-being paradox. These reports of positive health in the face of illness may point to an ability to bounce back from health-related challenges.

Self-reported health status is a strong predictor of future health status including the development of other health problems or death because of these problems. Previous studies have shown that this measure is related to many factors, but it is not understood how these factors effect self-reported health.

This research will focus on understanding the ways in which this ability to bounce-back explains self-reported health among older adults with multiple chronic conditions and depressive symptoms. Using data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, three research questions will be answered in order to understand: The relationship between the number of chronic conditions and self-reported health; 2) The way that key factors uniquely shape the relationship between multimorbidity and self-reported health, and; 3) The role that resilience plays in shaping self-reported health for those older adults with the well-being paradox.

It is important to understand the reasons that older adults report positive health (although they experience challenges from multiple chronic health conditions and depressive symptoms) as this understanding will inform effective programs and policies that can help to promote health and support healthy aging.


Funder: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

  • Maureen Markle-Reid
    Professor and Canada Research Chair in Person Centred Interventions for Older Adults with Multimorbidity and their Caregivers
    McMaster University School of Nursing
    Scientific Co-Lead, MIRA Collaborative for Health and Aging (OSSU SPOR Research Centre)
  • Carly Whitmore
    PhD Student
    McMaster University
    School of Nursing
  • Kathryn Fisher
  • Carrie McAiney
  • Jenny Ploeg
  • Lauren Griffith
  • Susan Phillips
  • Andrew Wister