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Validation of a Psychosocial Intervention on Body Image in Older People: An Experimental Design

Published: May 31st, 2021



1Department of Social Sciences and Applied Languages, Alfonso X El Sabio University, 2Department of Psychology of Education and Psychobiology, International University of La Rioja (UNIR)

This experimental intervention examines the body satisfaction of older people. The aim is to compare a specific intervention with another general program and determine which is more effective for improving body satisfaction in people over fifty years old.

For most people, body satisfaction is crucial to develop both a positive self-concept and self-esteem, and therefore, it can influence mental health and well-being. This idea has been tested with younger people, but no studies explore whether body image interventions are useful when people age. This research validates a specific program designed for older people (IMAGINA Specific Body Image Program). This is done by employing a mixed experimental design, with between-subject and within-subject comparisons that focus on body satisfaction before and after experimental treatment, comparing two groups. Using this experimental methodology makes it possible to identify the effect of the intervention in a group of 176 people. The score obtained with the Body Shape Questionnaire (BSQ) was the dependent variable, and the IMAGINA program was the independent one. As for age, gender, relationship status, season, and residence environment, these were controlled variables. There were significant differences in body satisfaction between the two programs, obtaining better results with IMAGINA. The controlled variables had a much less significant effect than the treatment. Therefore, it is possible to improve body satisfaction in older adults through interventions similar to the one presented here.

In Western societies, looking good, healthy, and young is very important to feel right, fit in, interact with others, and be successful, becoming a core element of the self-concept and self-esteem. How satisfied one person is with her/his body depends on personal perception, specifically, with how s/he feels, perceives, imagines, and reacts to physical appearance and body functioning1,2. Following this definition, it is possible to identify two qualitatively different dimensions within this construct. On the one hand, there is the perceptive dimension, which depends on evaluating the size, shape, and proportio....

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The Committee reviewed the Protocol on Scientific Conduct and Ethics of the Alfonso X el Sabio University. Also, a group of scientists external to the research team checked and approved the complete experimental process. To allowing participation in the study, it was necessary to sign an informed consent accepting to enroll in the program, as recommended by the Declaration of Helsinki30. Before enrollment, it was ensured that none of the participants would suffer any psychological stress or harm r.......

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The experimental research followed a mixed design, with between-subject measurements (experimental and control groups) and repeated measurements before and after treatment.

IMAGINA program by Sánchez-Cabrero (2012)26 was selected as the experimental therapeutical program to increase body image satisfaction of older adults in Spain. It has eight group-sessions of 90-120 minutes duration each, aiming at entertaining and engaging participants, using activities pr.......

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This experimental work supports the positive consequences of participating in a body satisfaction program in older people by examining satisfaction values before and after the intervention and comparing experimental and non-experimental groups. Also, the control of other intervening variables improves the reliability and validity of the results obtained.

The most critical step of the protocol was the selection of the program applied in the control group. It was necessary to replicate the same .......

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All contributing authors wish to express their gratitude to the Spanish Red Cross, because without its support we could not have done this research. Also, we appreciate a lot of the feedback and help from the Committee on Scientific Conduct and Ethics of the Alfonso X el Sabio University.


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
Body Shape Questionnaire (BSQ) International Journal of Eating Disorders 1987 Body Shape Questionnaire (BSQ) developed by Cooper, Taylor, Cooper, and Fairburn (1987), which was adapted and scaled to Spanish participants by Raich et al. (1996). This is a self-report of 34 items following a Likert scale that goes from 1 (never) to 6 (always). The final score ranges from 34 to 204 and scoring above 110 indicates dissatisfaction and discomfort with physical appearance (Cooper et al., 1987). It is a reliable instrument since several studies have reported Cronbach’s α between 0.95 and 0.97. Also, the BSQ has good external validity, i.e., it is convergent with other similar tools, such as the Multidimensional Body Self-Relations Questionnaire, MBSRQ (Cash, 2015) and the body dissatisfaction subscale of the Eating Disorders Inventory, EDI (Garner, Olmstead, and Polivy, 1983).
IMAGINA: programa de mejora de la autoestima y la imagen corporal para adultos Sinindice 2012 IMAGINA Program was meant to be a therapeutical tool to increase a body image satisfaction of older adults in Spain. It has eight group-sessions of 90-120 minutes duration each, aiming at entertaining and engaging participants. Body image and self-esteem are expected to improve through social participation, communication, body image workshops, and healthy nutrition information.
Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) IBM 24 Software package used in statistical analysis of data

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