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Measuring health lifestyles in a comparative analysis: Theoretical issues and empirical findings

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  • Abel, Thomas
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    Abstract

    The concept of lifestyle bears great potential for research in medical sociology. Yet, weaknesses in current methods have restrained lifestyle research from realizing its full potentials. The present focus is on the links between theoretical conceptions and their empirical application. The paper divides into two parts. The first part provides a discussion of basic theoretical and methodological issues. In particular selected lines of thought from Max Weber are presented and their usefulness in providing a theoretical frame of reference for health lifestyle research is outlined. Next, a theory guided definition of the subject matter is introduced and basic problems in empirical applications of theoretical lifestyle concepts are discussed. In its second part the paper presents findings from comparative lifestyle analyses. Data from the U.S. and West Germany are utilized to explore issues of measurement equ validity. Factor analyses indicate high conceptual equivalence for new measures of health lifestyle dimensions in both the U.S. and West Germany. Divisive cluster analyses detect three distinct lifestyle groups in both nations. Implications for future lifestyle research are discussed.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 32 (1991)
    Issue (Month): 8 (January)
    Pages: 899-908

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:32:y:1991:i:8:p:899-908

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    Related research

    Keywords: lifestyle health life chances life conduct theoretical validity measurement equivalence;

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    Cited by:
    1. Xuanping Zhang & Sean-Shong Hwang, 2007. "The micro consequences of macro-level social transition: how did Russians survive in the 1990s?," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 82(2), pages 337-360, June.
    2. Marc Luy & Paola Di Giulio, 2006. "The impact of health behaviors and life quality on gender differences in mortality," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2006-035, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    3. Abel, Thomas & Frohlich, Katherine L., 2012. "Capitals and capabilities: Linking structure and agency to reduce health inequalities," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 236-244.
    4. Rütten, Alfred & Gelius, Peter, 2011. "The interplay of structure and agency in health promotion: Integrating a concept of structural change and the policy dimension into a multi-level model and applying it to health promotion principles a," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(7), pages 953-959.

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