Category: Aging and Older Adults

Symposium

Short Version of the Reasons for Living--Older Adults Scale for Use in Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk

Friday, November 17
10:15 AM - 11:45 AM
Location: Cobalt 502, Level 5, Cobalt Level

Keywords: Suicide | Assessment | Aging / Older Adults
Presentation Type: Symposium

Identification of risk for suicidal behavior is critical in clinical practice and in research focused on suicide prevention, particularly among older adults, who have elevated suicide rates in the United States. Though protective factors are rarely attended to, exploring reasons for living (i.e. reported reasons that one with suicide ideation may not enact suicidal behavior) can be valuable in risk assessment and management. It can also be useful in exploring and challenging irrational thoughts about reasons for living and reasons for dying. The Reasons for Living – Older Adults scale (RFL-OA; Edelstein et al., 2009) was developed to measure reasons for living in late life, and has been used by both clinicians and researchers. Though shown to exhibit good psychometric properties, the original scale is long (69 items). The current study aimed to create a shorter version of the scale that is more feasible to use in clinical and research settings. First, data from the original development of the scale were used to complete an exploratory factor analysis. Thirty items that were most strongly loaded to the various factors, with priority given to maintaining breadth of content, were selected. Then, new data were collected (n = 248 age 60 and older). The shortened scale yielded a Cronbach’s alpha of .94, suggesting good internal reliability. Factor analysis yielded three factors, including positive attitudes about life (e.g. “Life is too beautiful and precious to end it”), religious reasons (e.g. “I put my life in God’s hands”), and family-related reasons (e.g. “I want to see my grandchildren grow up”). Finally, the shortened scale exhibited good convergent validity. Stronger endorsement of reasons for living is significantly correlated with lower suicide ideation (Geriatric Suicide Ideation Scale, r=-.53, p<.001), lower hopelessness (Beck Hopelessness Scale, r=-.57, p<.001), and lower depression (Centers for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale, r=-.49, p<.001). The shortened version of the RFL-OA is a reliable and valid measure of reasons for living that clinicians and researchers can use to identify protective factors against suicidal behavior in older adults.

Julie Lutz

West Virginia University

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Short Version of the Reasons for Living--Older Adults Scale for Use in Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk



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