AIM: To compare the quality of life (QOL) in terms of overall life satisfaction in elderly medical inpatients and elderly persons in a large population-based study in Norway, and to study the odds for dissatisfaction, controlling for demographic, health, and social variables.
METHODS: This cross-sectional observation study included 484 medical inpatients and 10,474 persons from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study 3 (HUNT 3 Study). All participants were 65 years and older. Their life satisfaction was assessed with a single-item measure with seven response categories. For analytical purposes the variable was dichotomized; i.e. dissatisfied vs. satisfied with life.
RESULTS: In the logistic regression analysis controlled for demographic, health, and social variables, the odds for experiencing dissatisfaction with life was significantly increased in the hospital sample compared to the participants in the population-based study (OR 1.4). Poor general health, depression, and anxiety were strongly associated with being dissatisfied with life. Furthermore, disability, previous psychological distress, having no friends who could help, and not participating in activities were all associated with dissatisfaction with life.
CONCLUSIONS: The hospitalization of the elderly has implications for the QOL in terms of life satisfaction, but general physical and psychological health seems to have an even stronger impact on life satisfaction. The prevention of the deterioration of physical and mental health in old age seems to be essential for a good life.