Healthy behaviors or age denials?
There is considerable confusion in the media and the public about healthy behaviors in contrast to "antiaging" behaviors designed to make one look "younger." As an aid in clarifying the differences between these two types of behaviors, we have developed a questionnaire called the Health Behavior Inventory (HBI). We also wanted to estimate differences in the frequency of different types of behaviors, differences between older and younger respondents, and differences between men and women. The HBI consists of 10 Healthy Behaviors and 10 Age Denial behaviors. We tested the HBI in a mailed survey to 250 older persons. The questionnaire was returned by 222 persons. We used Cronbach's alpha to test for consistency reliability of the two scales. Healthy Behaviors were reported much more often than Age Denials, but 1/3 reported 1 or more Age Denials. Younger persons and women tended to report substantially more Age Denials than men. The scales appear to have good face validity, and the Age Denials scale has fairly consistent internal reliability. The HBI appears to be a useful tool for research on the frequency and distribution of Healthy Behaviors and Age Denials among different groups of older persons. It may also be used in educational settings and the media for raising awareness of the need for more Healthy Behaviors and for reducing useless and dangerous types of Age Denials.
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