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Middle-Aged Resiliency and Resistance Study (MARRS)

MARRS includes a collection of studies investigating the midlife (45 to 64 years), attitudes on aging and ageism, and how to respond to ageism on individual and societal levels. 


MARRS Qualitative

Middle-Aged Resiliency and Resistance Study (MARRS): A Qualitative Study of the Influence of Ageism and

Age-Inclusivity on the Midlife Years

Principal Investigator: Donna Dumitrescu

The midlife – typically defined as the ages between 45 to 64 years – has been largely overlooked in the research on lifespan development. The aim of this research study was to gain an understanding of the ideas held about midlife from a lifespan perspective (i.e., Saskatchewan residents ages 25 to 84 years), and to collect middle adults’ experiences of ageism, age-inclusivity, and their resilience towards ageism.


This study involved completing background questions, as well as an interview either through Zoom or over the phone that took 60 minutes. 

The recruitment phase of this study has now ended. We are focusing on analyzing the data. The most up to date results on the midlife sample (ages 45-64) can be found here

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Middle-Aged Resiliency and Resistance Study (MARRS): A Quantitative Study on Aging Across the Lifespan 

Principal Investigator: Courtney Cameron

Self-directed ageism (i.e., ageism that individuals perpetrate themselves toward themselves) and other-directed ageism (i.e., ageism that is executed by others onto yourself or someone else) are two age-related concepts that have been minimally researched across the adult lifespan. Although research exists on the ageist experiences of older adults (i.e., 65 years or older), there are gaps in the literature on the perspectives of aging and the various psychosocial factors (e.g., discrimination, mortality awareness) which will influence one's lived experiences among the younger (i.e., between the ages of 25 and 44) and middle-aged (i.e., between the ages of 45 and 64) adult populations. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate and conduct an in-depth analysis of aging misconceptions and ageist notions experienced by adults across their lifespan. To explore this, participants completed a set of online questionnaires measuring intergenerational perspectives on ageism, self-directed ageism, other-directed ageism, and the psychosocial factors that significantly predict experiences of ageism (i.e., intersecting identities, mortality awareness). Key findings include that younger adult reported higher scores of experienced discrimination than middle-aged and older adults. Younger adults also contributed to higher other-based ageism than middle-aged and older adults. In addition, we learned that as one's chronological age increases, views of other age groups to which you do not belong become more favorable. Concerning mortality awareness, we found that younger adults reported having the greatest death anxiety and mortality awareness. 

A presentation on these results can be found here

MARRS Quantitative

Comparing Resilience and Coping Among Emerging, Young, and Middle-Aged Adults 

Principal Investigator: Donna Dumitrescu

Honours Thesis 2022-23

Read the full thesis here

The purpose of this study was to explore differences in resilience and coping styles among emerging (18-25 years), young (26-44 years), and middle-aged adults (45-64 years) in Saskatchewan. Resilience is a person’s ability to move forward from hard times. Coping styles are the ways that someone deals with hard times. We wanted to explore which factors were most important to overall resilience, as well as difference in resilience and coping among the age groups. The factors were social support (from friends, family, significant other), wisdom, and stress levels. Wisdom refers to personal and social skills, like noticing and regulating emotions, getting along well with others, giving advice, solving conflict, and having a sense of spirituality. In addition, we wanted to know which coping styles were used most by psychologically healthy adults. Participants in this study were asked to complete a series of anonymous self-report questionnaires online.


We found that levels of resilience were similar between the age groups. Young adults (26-44 years) reported using more positive coping strategies than the other age groups, such as emotional support, instrumental/task support, and spirituality or religion. With each age group, emerging adults (18-25 years) used distraction the most to cope, young adults used planning, while middle-aged adults (45-64 years) used acceptance to cope (accepting what has happened and finding ways to adapt). Regardless of people’s ages, lower stress levels and higher levels of wisdom were related to resilience. Wisdom was the most important factor contributing to an adult's overall resilience levels. Psychologically healthy adults (who were highly resilient, wise, socially supported, or minimally stressed) tended to use active, planning, and acceptance coping strategies, while disengagement (giving up) and denial strategies were used infrequently.


Overall, these results highlight the importance of dealing with hard times through finding solutions and facing challenges directly, getting support, and managing stress. Building wisdom, through growing social skills and emotional regulation may be a means of improving one’s resilience.

Muslims & Mental Health
Behaviour Change

Cultural and Islamic influences on the perceptions of mental health services in middle-aged Muslim adults

Principal Investigator: Sheza Shahid

Honours Thesis 2021-22

Read the full thesis here


The present study was aimed at gaining a better understanding of the perceptions of mental health services held by the middle-aged (i.e., 40 to 60 years of age) Muslim community in Canada. Specifically, we examined the influence of Cultural and Religious Beliefs, Familiarity and Knowledge, and Experiences on Rejection Attitudes. To do so, a set of online self-report questionnaires was administered as well as follow-up individual interviews to provide greater depth in the reasoning behind these perspectives.


Questionnaire results demonstrated that high levels of Cultural and Religious Beliefs, low levels of Familiarity and Knowledge, and low levels of Experiences significantly predicted high levels of Rejection Attitudes. Individual interviews demonstrated generally positive along with some negative Attitudes towards professional mental health services, generally high levels of Familiarity and Knowledge with professional mental health services, and a mixture of both positive and negative Experiences with professional mental health services. The most predominant themes within Cultural Influences were lack of trust in Western therapeutic techniques, societal stigma, and fear of losing cultural values. As for Religious Influences, the greatest theme was the fear of being misunderstood or judged due to Islamic values and practices.

Effectiveness of a brief Internet-delivered behaviour change intervention among healthy middle-aged adults: A randomized controlled trial

Principal Investigator: Kelsey Haczkewicz

Honours Thesis 2021-22

Read the full thesis here

View the conference poster here


Previous studies have demonstrated the need to move beyond the common misconception of midlife as a time of crisis so that we can develop further understandings of the midlife as a time of opportunity for the maintenance and improvement of health. Several psychosocial factors such as resilience, emotion regulation, perceived social support, and control beliefs have been identified as having a role in the adoption of healthier lifestyle habits in middle age which, in turn, may decrease the risk of a developing or worsening chronic disease.


This study consisted of an initial online questionnaire, as well as two follow-up questionnaires, and was aimed at evaluating the influence of psychosocial factors on the adoption of healthy lifestyle habits in middle-aged (i.e. 35 – 64 year-old) adults. Specifically, this study aimed to examine whether differing experiences of social support, resilience, emotion regulation, and control beliefs influence physical activity levels following a brief behaviour change intervention called Brief Action Planning. Middle-aged adults from Saskatchewan either completed the guided goal-setting activity, or set goals without guidance as well as two follow-up questionnaires to assess their progress.


Results demonstrated that those who often re-interpret emotional events, feel they have high social support from friends, and are resilient spend more time engaged in walking, moderate, and vigorous physical activities, respectively. Additionally, completing the guided goal-setting activity did not result in changes in physical activity levels, in comparison to the non-guided group.

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