Understanding Holistic Wellness from a Midlife Perspective: A Factor Analytic Study

Main Article Content

Erin Dupuis https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2420-5508
Thomas Foster


Wellness, midlife, aging, wellbeing, social support


The purpose of this study was to determine the dimensions of holistic wellness that would emerge in a sample of midlife adults (N= 269, Mage = 52 years) using the Perceived Wellness Survey and to assess if these dimensions related to developmental theories of midlife. Results from an exploratory principal-axis factor analysis indicated a four-factor solution of wellness for midlife adults (i.e., Physical Wellness, Affiliative Security, Cognitive Competence, and Optimism). Individuals who scored higher on these factors showed greater perception of cognitive and physical capacity, optimism, and greater social interaction. These results are compared to previous results with other developmental cohorts. Implications for how these findings relate to wellbeing, successful aging, and social support theory are discussed, as well as suggestions for clinical practice and future research. By gaining a better understanding of how midlife adults perceive holistic wellness, mental health professionals can synthesize this with their clinical approach.


Download data is not yet available.
Abstract 274 | Download PDF Downloads 183


Adams, T. B., & Bezner, J. R. (2000). Conceptualization and measurement of the spiritual and psychological dimensions of wellness in a college population. Journal of American College Health, 48(4), 165-173. https://doi-org.ezproxy.loyno.edu/10.1080/07448480009595692
Adams, T., Bezner, J., Garner, L., & Woodruff, S. (1998). Construct validation of the Perceived Wellness Survey. American Journal of Health Studies, 14(4), 212-219.
Adams, T., Bezner, J., & Steinhardt, M. (1997). The conceptualization and measurement of perceived wellness: Integrating balance across and within dimensions. American Journal of Health Promotion, 11(3), 208-218.
Archer, J., Probert, B. S., & Gage, L. (1987). College students' attitudes toward wellness. Journal of College Student Personnel, 28(4), 311-317.
Ardell, D. B. (1988). The history and future of the wellness movement. In J. P. Opatz (Ed.), Wellness promotion strategies: Selected proceedings of the eighth annual National Wellness Conference. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.
Beaupre, P., Turcotte, P., & Milan, A. (2008). Junior comes back home: Trends and predictors of returning to the parental home. Canadian Social Trends, 11, 28-34.
Bezner, J. R., Adams, T. B., & Whistler, L. S. (1999). The relationship between physical activity and indicators of perceived wellness. American Journal of Health Studies, 15, 130–138.
Blando, J. (2011). Counseling older adults. New York, NY: Routledge.
Carstensen, L.L. (1992). Social and emotional patterns in adulthood: Support for socioemotional selectivity theory. Psychology and Aging, 7(3), 331-338.
Cavanaugh, J. C., & Whitbourne, S. K. (Eds.). (1999). Gerontology: An interdisciplinary perspective. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Cohen, S. (2004). Social relationships and health. American Psychologist, 59, 198-210.
Cohen, S., & Wills, T. A. (1985). Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin, 98, 310-357.
Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs. (2016). 2016 CACREP standards. Retrieved from http://www.cacrep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/2016-Standards-with-Glossary-5.3.2018.pdf
Degges-White, S., & Myers, J.E. (2006). Women at midlife: An exploration of chronological age, subjective age, wellness, and life Satisfaction. Adultspan Journal, 5(2), 67-80.
Dunn, H. L. (1961). High level wellness. Arlington, VA: R.W. Beatly.
Erikson, E.H. (1963). Childhood and society (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Erikson, E. H. (1980). Identity and the life cycle. New York, NY: Norton.
Erikson, E. H., Erikson, J. M., & Kivnick, H. Q. (1986). Vital involvement in old age. New York, NY: Norton.
Foster, T. (2010). Encouraging student wellness: An expanded role for counselor educators, Journal of Counselor Preparation and Supervision, 2, 10-22.
Foster, T., & Kreider, V. (2009). Reinventing gerocounseling in counselor preparation as a specialization. Educational Gerontology, 35, 177-187. doi: 10.1080/03601270802466850
Foster, T., & Levitov, J. (2012). Wellness during midlife and older adulthood: A different perception. Adultspan Journal, 11(2), 66-76.
Foster, T., Galjour, C., & Spengel, S. (2015). Redefining wellness during later adulthood: An evolving perception, Journal of Adult Development, 22(4), 239-247. doi: 10.1007/s10804-015-9215-4
Fry, R. (2017). It’s becoming more common for young adults to live at home and for longer stretches. Pew Research Center, Washington D.C.
Hair, J. F., Black, W. C., Babin, B. J., & Anderson, R. E. (2010). Multivariate data analysis. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Hammer, L. B., & Neal, M. B. (2008). Working sandwich-generation caregivers: Prevalence, characteristics and outcomes. The Psychologist-Manager Journal, 11(1), 93–112.
Harari, M. J., Waehler, C. A., & Rogers, J. R. (2005). An empirical investigation of a theoretically based measure of perceived wellness. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52(1), 93-103.
Hattie, J., Myers, J. E., & Sweeney, T. J. (2004). A factor structure of wellness: Theory, assessment, analysis, and practice. Journal of Counseling and Development, 82, 354–364.
Heckhausen, J. (1999). Adaptation and resilience in midlife. In M. E. Lachman (Ed.), Handbook of midlife development (pp. 345-394). New York, NY: John Wiley.
Heckhausen, J., Wrosch, C., & Schulz, R. (2010). A motivational theory of life-span development. Psychological Review, 117(1), 32-60. doi: 10.1037/a0017668
House, J.S., Landis, K.R., & Umberson, D. (1988). Social relationships and health. Science, New Series, 241, 540-545.
Knight, B. G. (2004). Psychotherapy with older adults. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Ko, H-J., Hooker, K., Manoogian, M.M., & McAdams, D.P. (2019). Transitions to older adulthood: Exploring midlife women’s narratives regarding purpose in life. Journal of Positive Psychology & Wellbeing, 3, 137-152.
Lachman, M. E. (2015). Mind the gap in the middle: A call to study midlife. Research in Human Development, 12, 327-334. https://doi.org/10.1080 /15427609.2015.1068048.
Lichter, D., & Qian, Z. (2004). Marriage and family in a multiracial society. In R. Farley & J. Haaga (Eds.), The American people: Census 2000 (pp. 169–200). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
McGinnis, D. (2018). Resilience, life events, and well-being during midlife: Examining resilience subgroups. Journal of Adult Development, 25(3), 198–221. oi.org.ezproxy.loyno.edu/10.1007/s10804-018-9288-y
Myers, J. E. (1992). Wellness, prevention, development: The cornerstone of the profession. Journal of Counseling and Development, 71, 136–139.
Myers, J. E., & Sweeney, T. J. (Eds.). (2005). Counseling for wellness. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Myers, J. E., & Sweeney, T. J. (2008). Wellness counseling: The evidence base for practice. Journal of Counseling and Development, 86, 482–493.
Myers, J. E., Sweeney, T. J., & Witmer, J. M. (2000). The wheel of wellness counseling for wellness: A holistic model for treatment planning. Journal of Counseling and Development, 78, 251–266.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). Mental illness. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih. gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.shtml
Pope, N. (2013). Views on aging: How caring for an aging parent influences adult daughters' perspectives on later life. Journal of Adult Development, 20(1), 46-56. doi: 10.1007/s10804-013-9155-9
Pope, N. D., Kolomer, S., & Glass, A. P. (2012). How women in late midlife become caregivers for their aging parents. Journal of Women and Aging, 24, 242-261.
Preacher, K. J., & MacCallum, R. C. (2002). Exploratory factor analysis in behavior genetics research: Factor recovery with small sample sizes. Behavior Genetics, 32(2), 153–161.
Qian, Z. (2012). During the great recession, more young adults lived with parents. Census Brief prepared for Project 2010. Retrieved from www.s4.brown. edu/us2010.
Roger, P. R., & Stone, G. (2014). What is the difference between a clinical psychologist and a counseling psychologist? Retrieved from http://www.div17.org/about/what-is-counseling-psychology/counseling-vs-clinical/
Rowe, J.W., & Kahn, R.L. (1997). Successful aging. The Gerontologist, 37(4), 433–440.
Scherman, S,M., Cheng, Y-P., Fingerman, K.L., & Schnyer, D.M. (2016). Social support, stress, and the aging brain. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 11, 1050-1058, doi: 10.1093/scan /nsv071.
Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2013). Using multivariate statistics (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Tebes, J.K., & Irish, J.T. (2008). Promoting resilience among children of sandwiched generation caregiving women through caregiver mutual help. Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community, 20, 139-158, doi: 10.1300/J005v20n01_10
Troutman, M. Nies, M.A., Small, S. & Bates, A. (2011). The development and testing of an instrument to measure successful aging. Research in Gerontological Nursing, 4(3), 221-232.
Turner, N. E. (1998). The effect of common variance and structure pattern on random data eigenvalues: Implications for the accuracy of parallel analysis. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 58, 541–568. doi:10.1177/0013164498058004001.
U.S. Census Bureau. (2017). Retrieved from: https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2017/demo/popproj/2017-summary-tables.html
Werner-Siedler, A., Aflazi, M.H., Chapman, C., Sunderland, M., & Slade, T. (2017). The relationship between social support networks and depression in the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Well-being. Soc. Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol, 52, 1463-1473. doi: 10.1007/s00127-017-1440-7.
Wiese, C.W., Kiuykendall, L., & Tay, L. (2017). Get active? A meta-analysis of leisure-time physical activity and subjective well-being. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 13, 57-66, doi: 10.1080/17439760.2017.1374436
Witmer, J. M., & Granello, P. F. (2005). Wellness in counselor education. In J. E. Myers & T. J. Sweeney (Eds.), Counseling for Wellness (pp. 261–271). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Zehner Ourada, V. E., & Walker, A. J. (2014). A comparison of physical health outcomes for caregiving parents and caregiving adult children. Family Relations, 63(1), 163-177. doi:10.1111/fare.12046