Mobilizing Resources for Well-being: Implications for Developing Interventions in the Retirement Transition

Gerontologist. 2016 Aug;56(4):615-29. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnu159. Epub 2015 Feb 3.


Purpose of the study: Good health and well-being in later life are central issues for public health. Retirement presents an opportunity to intervene to improve health and well-being, as individuals may adjust associated lifestyle behaviors. However, there is little evidence about how well-being is experienced in the context of increasingly diverse retirement transitions. Our objectives were to explore (a) views on health and well-being through retirement transitions and (b) acceptability of intervening in this period.

Design and methods: Qualitative study involving 48 workers/retirees, aged 53-77 years of diverse socioeconomic status, were recruited from urban and rural areas in North East England. Data were collected iteratively through focus groups (n = 6), individual interviews (n = 13), interviews with couples (n = 4), using the constant comparative method. Analysis was informed by theories of the Third Age and Sen's capabilities approach.

Results: Diverse retirement transitions were shaped by unanticipated events. Central to well-being was the "capability" to utilize resources to achieve desirable outcomes. Participants rejected a "later life" identity, associating it with decline, and an uncertain future.

Implications: Lifestyle interventions that address challenges within the retirement transition may be acceptable. Inducements to change behavior based on possible long-term outcomes may be less appealing. Providing assistance to use resources to address personal goals may be central to effective interventions.

Keywords: Intervention; Later life; Retirement; Well-being.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • England
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Resources
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Retirement*