On 9 September, Zeyun Feng MSc will defend her PhD thesis, titled ‘Successful ageing in China: the importance of health behaviours.’ She investigated the (longitudinal) relationships of socio-economic conditions, social cohesion and health behaviours with quality of life and health outcomes among older adults in China.
As a rising economic power, China has been experiencing unprecedented economic development. A substantial body of evidence has shown that income inequality is a major threat to social cohesion. The drastic economic growth in China during the past few decades has likely affected this social cohesion. To date, substantial information regarding the influence of social cohesion on people’s health behaviours is available from Western countries, though, little is known about the association in China at the national level. Also, little is known whether different longitudinal patterns of multiple health behaviours are associated with different trajectories of depressive symptoms over time.
Among Zeyun’s various research interests, her main interest has been to explore (social) factors that are associated with health-related behaviours and how different patterns of multiple health behaviours shape trajectories of depression (and other elements of successful ageing) in older adults.
Focus of the thesis
In her thesis, Zeyun will mainly be addressing the following research questions:
- What are the associations between multiple health behaviours and major health outcomes among older adults in China?
- What are the associations of social participation and traditional health behaviours with health and Quality of Life outcomes among chronically ill older adults in China?
- What are the associations of social cohesion and socio-economic status with multiple health behaviours?
- Is higher household income associated with social participation among older Chinese adults over time?
- What are the distinct longitudinal patterns of multiple health behaviours, and are different patterns associated with different trajectories of depressive symptoms over time?
In general, greater social cohesion was associated with adequate vegetable and fruit consumption, active social participation, and not being a daily smoker among middle-aged and older adults in China. Furthermore, this thesis provides crucial evidence that different patterns of health behaviours are associated with distinct trajectories of depressive symptoms among middle-aged and older adults in China. These empirical findings provide valuable information to aid health professionals and policymakers in developing optimal health promotion strategies.