Sociodemographic Correlates of Somatic Symptoms of Older Persons in Jordan

Ayman M Hamdan-Mansour

Abstract


Aim: This study aims to examine the sociodemographic correlates of somatic symptoms among older
persons in Jordan.
Materials and Methods: Cross-sectional explorative design using convenience sample of 1058 older
persons in Jordan has been used. Data were collected using structured, self-report format in regards to
physical health problems and sociodemographic information.
Results: The three most concerning physical symptoms were ‘pain in arms, legs, or joints’, ‘feeling
tired or having low energy’ and ‘back pain’ with a frequency of 71.5% (n=756), 69.6% (n=737), and
62.2% (n=754) respectively. There were significant differences in all somatic problems between males
and females except in shortness of breath and fainting spells, with females being more affected by
somatic symptoms. Smokers and nonsmokers differed in four main somatic symptoms: ‘pain in arms,
legs and joints’, ‘chest pain’, ‘shortness of breath’, and ‘feeling heart pound or race’. A significant and
positive association was observed between age and three main somatic symptoms; those were ‘pain in
arm, leg and joint’ (Kendall’s tau b=7.12, p =.005), ‘chest pain’ (Kendall’s tau b =5.01, p =.015), and
‘shortness of breath’ (Kendall’s tau b=11.56, p <.001). Point biserial correlation showed that number
of cigarettes smoked has positive and significant correlation with ‘shortness of breath’, ‘chest pain’ and
‘pain or problems during sexual intercourse’, while number of cups of coffee per day had no significant
correlation.
Conclusion: Ageing is a significant contributor to physical health deterioration. Life style factors such
as smoking have also significant impact on older person health.

Keywords


Older person; somatic symptoms, socio-demographics, Jordan.

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