Measuring character strengths as possible protective factors against suicidal ideation in older Chinese adults : a cross-sectional study

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Xinfeng Cheng
  • He Bu
  • Wenjie Duan
  • Along He
  • Yaping Zhang


Original languageEnglish
Article number439
Journal / PublicationBMC Public Health
Online published3 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020



Background: Suicide is a global issue among the elderly. The number of older people committing suicide is proliferating, and the elderly suicide rate is the highest among all age groups in China. A better understanding of the possible protective factors against suicidal ideation is necessary to facilitate prevention and intervention efforts. The objectives of the present study are threefold. First, this study aims to examine the psychometric properties of the three-dimensional inventory of character strengths (TICS) with a sample of older adults. Second, this study intends to investigate correlations among suicide ideation, wellbeing, and character strengths. Third, the study seeks to explore the possible protective roles of the three character strengths and wellbeing in explaining suicidal ideation among older adults. 
Methods: A cross-sectional study comprising 308 older adults aged at least 50 years old from nursing homes was conducted. Four questionnaires, namely, the TICS, the Geriatric Suicide Ideation Scale—10 items, the Brief Inventory of Thriving, and the Satisfaction with Life Scale, were used. Exploratory structural equation modeling, intraclass correlation coefficients, partial correlations, and sets of hierarchical regressions were adopted to estimate and report the results. 
Results: TICS could be used to assess the character strengths (i.e., caring, inquisitiveness, and self-control) among older adults with an acceptable goodness-of-fit (chi square = 157.30, df = 63, p < 0.001, CFI = 0.94, TLI = 0.90, RMSEA = 0.07, 90% CI = [0.06, 0.08]). Wellbeing and character strengths exhibited a negative association with suicidal ideation among older adults. Moreover, character strengths showed an independently cross-sectional relationship with suicidal ideation, explaining 65.1% of the variance of suicidal ideation after controlling for the wellbeing and demographics. 
Conclusion: This study indicated that character strengths were associated with low levels of suicidal ideation. Therefore, the protective factors against suicidal ideation among older adults should be given additional attention.

Research Area(s)

  • Character strengths, China, Life satisfaction, Psychometric, Suicidal ideation

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