Psychological Well-Being in Italian Families: An Exploratory Approach to the Study of Mental Health Across the Adult Life Span in the Blue Zone


  • Paul Kenneth Hitchcott
  • Maria Chiara Fastame
  • Jessica Ferrai
  • Maria Pietronilla Penna


Self-reported measures of psychological well-being and depressive symptoms were examined across differently aged family members, while controlling for the impact of marital status and personal satisfaction about family and non-family relations. Twenty-one grandchildren (i.e., ages 21-36 years) were recruited with their parents (i.e., 48-66 years old) and grandparents (i.e., 75-101 years of age) in the ‘blue zone’ of Ogliastra, an Italian area known for the longevity of its inhabitants. Each participant was individually presented a battery of questionnaires assessing their lifestyle and several perceived mental health indices, including the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale (WEMWBS, Tennant et al., 2007), and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (i.e., CES-D, Radloff, 1977). After assessing the level of concordance among adults sharing the same context, the Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) approach was used to assess the nested dataset. It was found that family membership (i.e., grandchildren versus parents and grandparents) predicted the WEMWBS score but not the CES-D when the impact of marital status and personal satisfaction about social (i.e., family and non-family) ties was controlled for. Moreover, two separate repeated-measure Analyses of Variance (ANOVAs) documented similar level of personal satisfaction about social relationships across the three family groups. In conclusions, satisfying social ties with friends and family members together with an active socially oriented life style seems to contribute to the promotion of mental health in adult span.