Background: China has the world's largest aging population and the number of empty-nest older adults is on the rise. In comparison to the aging population in general, empty-nest older adults have a lower level of subjective well-being and poorer mental health status due to a lack of emotional support from their children. The aim of this study is to conduct an empirical study to evaluate the efficacy of the 'Path-oriented Psychological Self-help Intervention' (P-oPSI) led by nurses on the mental health of empty-nest older adults in the community, to provide a scientific foundation for improving their quality of life. Methods: A Quasi-Experimental controlled intervention study was conducted from 2015 to 2017. A total of 76 empty-nest older adults from 2 districts were recruited using a convenience sampling and assigned to 2 groups based on their residential communities in the city of Chifeng in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China. The wait list control group participated in a mental health lecture to gain knowledge and learn techniques of mental health promotion. The intervention group additionally received 1 month of training in a nurse-led 'P-oPSI' for a month. Both groups were followed-up for 3 months. Mental health status, coping styles, and psychological self-help ability of the participating empty nest older adults were assessed at the baseline, 1 month, and 3-months follow up, respectively. Two-way analysis of variance and a simple effect test were used to analyse the differences of the two groups. Results: The P-oPSI yielded a greater benefit for the mental health status, coping styles, and psychological self-help ability of the participants in the intervention group. Combined with a simple effect test, the scores of the mental health status, positive coping style, and psychological self-help ability of those in the intervention group significantly increased at 1 month after the baseline (F mental health status = 7.59, F positive coping style = 7.24, F psychological self-help ability = 7.07); and the sustainable effect of this program lasted for 3 months after the intervention (F mental health status = 13.24, F positive coping style = 10.42, F psychological self-help ability = 10.45), which reached statistical significance (P < 0.01). Conclusions: The P-oPSI program significantly improved the level of mental health of empty-nest older adults in China. This intervention provides a new approach of self-management to improve mental health of older adults in community settings. Trial registration: chictr.org.cn: ChiCTR1900025552. Retrospectively registered 1 September 2019.
- Chinese empty-nest older adults
- Mental health
- Structural equation model
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health