The will-to-live scale: development, validation, and significance for elderly people

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22 Scopus citations


Objectives: In old age, the will-to-live (WTL) is one of the most important indicators of subjective well-being (SWB). However, few studies to date have focused on WTL. In these studies, WTL has mainly been evaluated via indirect questions concerning factors that may influence peoples’ WTL, or by measures directed to patients with specific diseases. The current study describes the development and psychometric properties of a new WTL scale. Method: The five-item WTL scale was developed on the basis of previous qualitative and quantitative research, and was evaluated in a longitudinal study of a random sample of 868 adults, aged 75+. Results: Confirmatory factor analytic (CFA) models were computed showing that each of the five items contributed significantly to measurement of a single WTL latent factor. Goodness-of-fit statistics were in ideal parameters for these CFA models at each point of data collection. Moreover, temporal analyses indicated that the relative contribution to measurement for each item was equivalent across time, attesting to reliability of measurement and the construct validity of WTL measurement. Concurrent validity was supported by significant positive correlations between WTL and life satisfaction, happiness, self-rated health, morale, self-rated aging, and, as expected, by inverse associations of WTL with depression and loneliness. Conclusion: The results of these analyses indicate that the WTL scale is a valid and reliable instrument. Considering the importance of the WTL concept in late life, and the psychometric properties of the WTL scale, we recommend it for use in research and practice related to older adults’ SWB and end-of-life care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-296
Number of pages8
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 4 Mar 2017


  • confirmatory factor analysis
  • elderly
  • psychometric characteristics
  • subjective well-being
  • will-to-live scale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatric Mental Health
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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