Health Related Outcomes of Successful Development

By Kebza, Vladimír; Solcová, Iva et al. | Central European Journal of Public Health, March 2016 | Go to article overview

Health Related Outcomes of Successful Development


Kebza, Vladimír, Solcová, Iva, Kodl, Miloslav, Kernová, Vera, Central European Journal of Public Health


INTRODUCTION

Our study of successful development would not be complete without an analysis of the health related aspects of successful development as such. The project is targeted at exploring the paths to successful development using empirical data from longitudinal studies of individuals since 1956 (Prague) and 1961 (Brno). We consider the state of present well-being as a manifestation of successfully mastered development. The variables expressing different aspects of well-being (life satisfaction, sense of coherence, life meaningfulness) have been monitored in the long term within these studies, and further constructs are included from this stage of the study. We will focus on resilience, human strengths and the strategies of selection, optimization and compensation as conceived by P. Baltes.

The developmental psychology of adults has developed as a fully fledged psychological discipline (1, 2) over the past twenty-five years. A canonical (normative) course of adult life (with consideration of gender) has been described, with respect to changes in status, roles, goals and tasks (3, 4). Broader theoretical methodological frameworks (often on an interdisciplinary basis) have been created for the purposes of research in human development. Of these, the theory of life course (5, 6), lifespan psychology (7), holistic interactionism (8) or developmental systems theory (9, 10) are of primary revelance.

A significant feature of the newly formulated theories is their departure from the study of individual stages of development and their psychological characteristics towards the study of general principles of lifespan development (e.g. processes of selection, optimization and compensation in P. Baltes' theoretical system). At the present time we observe another shift in focus, i.e. towards the subject of optimal development of the human, where developmental psychology meets personality psychology, clinical psychology, health psychology and the psychology of well-being in the common interest. Along with the concept of optimal development we are faced with other concepts such as successful development (7, 11, 12), optimal ageing (13) or healthy ageing (14, 15).

We can state that specialists in different fields of psychology, progressing through different ways, have come to be interested in the same subject, that of a happily or at least satisfactorily spent life. Of the theoretical fields of study it was mainly humanistic psychology which historically contributed to the study of optimal development, giving great attention to questions concerned with a fully/optimally developed personality ("fully functioning person") and living existentially (living a "good life"), and which also emphasized that the "good life" is a process, not a state of being (16, 17).

Of the newer psychological disciplines, it is primarily positive psychology which provides a theoretical anchor for the study of optimal development of the human (and among other sources significantly draws on humanistic psychology), and pursues an understanding of the positive forces in humans and their development (18). The results of the latest examination so far undertaken within the Prague longitudinal study have been summarized in the final report on project GA CR no. 406/04/0027 entitled "Psychological aspects of health behaviours in adulthood of persons followed-up from the birth" (19). The results show, among other things, that the Prague study has successfully progressed through the next stage and the following of the cohort and its active cooperation continues.

The aim of this study is to follow up the ongoing Brno and Prague longitudinal study of a cohort of the Czech population and obtain data for mapping the development of personality characteristics, levels of their mental resilience, state of health and development of the health-related complex of their behaviour. The project is based on an interdisciplinary approach and the analysis of relations between psychological and anthropological aspects and health variables, as developing over time. …

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