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Sense of coherence (SOC) and psychological well-being (GHQ): Improvement with age.
  1. Kent W Nilsson1,
  2. Jerzy Leppert1,
  3. Bo Simonsson2,
  4. Bengt Starrin3
  1. 1 Centre for Clinical Research, Uppsala University, Sweden;
  2. 2 Division of International Health (IHCAR), Karolinska Institutet, Sweden;
  3. 3 Department of Social Studies, Karlstad University, Sweden
  1. * Corresponding author; email: kent.nilsson{at}


Background: Psychological well-being is important for individuals, communities, and health services throughout the world, not only because of the costs associated with psychological ill-health, but also the loss of quality of life for those affected and their relatives. Following a salutogenic approach, there is a link between health-promoting resources, such as generalised resistance resources and a positive state of health. Generalised resistance resources have been proposed to relate to an individual’s sense of coherence (SOC). The objectives of the present study were: i) to investigate SOC in relation to age and sex, ii) to investigate GHQ in relation to age and sex, and iii) to investigate the relationship between generalised resistance resources and psychological well-being.

Methods: A random sample of 43,598 respondents (54% female) aged 18 to 85 years participated in the present study via a postal survey questionnaire. Sense of coherence was measured by the SOC-13 and well-being by the GHQ-12 questionnaire.

Results: Males had both stronger SOC and well-being compared to females. There was a relationship between SOC and age, with stronger SOC in the older age groups. We also found that a larger proportion of individuals experienced well-being as a function of age. In addition, an increase in SOC was related to a decrease in GHQ, i.e., a stronger SOC corresponded to higher well-being.

Conclusion: Males showed a stronger SOC and more well-being than females. Moreover SOC and well-being increased with age in both sexes. Our findings suggest that SOC may develop over a whole lifetime.

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