Background: Personal factors are key elements to understand peoples' health behavior. Studies of such factors are important to develop targeted interventions to improve health. The main purpose of this study is to explore sense of coherence (SOC) in a sample of persons with morbid obesity before and after attending a patient education course and to explore the association between SOC and sociodemographic and other personal factors.
Methods: In this longitudinal purposely sampled study, the participants completed questionnaires on the first day of the course and 12 months after course completion. Sixty-eight participants had valid scores on the selected variables at follow-up: SOC, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. Relationships were assessed with correlation analyses and paired and independent samples t-tests and predictors with linear regression analyses.
Results: From baseline to follow-up, the total SOC score and the subdimension scores comprehensibility, manageability, and meaningfulness all increased significantly. At both time points, the SOC scores were low compared to the general population but similar to scores in other chronically ill. At baseline, a multivariate analysis showed that older age, having paid work, and higher self-esteem were directly related to higher total SOC score after controlling for other sociodemographic factors and the participants' level of self-efficacy. Multivariate analyses of the relationship between baseline predictors of SOC at 12-month follow-up, controlling for baseline SOC scores or sociodemographic or personal factors, revealed that none of these variables independently predicted SOC scores at follow-up.
Conclusion: The total SOC score and its subdimensions increased significantly at follow-up. SOC may be a useful outcome measure for lifestyle interventions in people with morbid obesity and possibly other health care problems. Subdimension scores may give an indication of what is poorly developed and needs strengthening. This might guide choices for targeted cognitive and psychosocial interventions. Further studies are needed to explore this issue with larger samples.
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