University of Louisville

Poster Title

Transcendence in Older Adults: A Review of Recent Literature

Institution

University of Louisville

Abstract

Transcendence is an inherent aspect of maturity that changes one’s perspective on self, others, and the meaning of life. Literature published since 2008 was reviewed to update our understanding of the concept of transcendence. CINAHL, MedLine, AgeLine, and PsycInfo databases were searched for the terms: transcendence, self-transcendence, and gerotranscendence. Inclusion criteria were: explicit definition among older adults, basis in theory, or late life developmental process. Twenty-four articles were included. Content analysis was performed by examining: 1) search terms; 2) seminal vs. contemporary theory, and 3) theory vs. empirical research. Literature was coded for broad categories and major themes were identified. Five theoretical viewpoints on transcendence were identified: three seminal and two contemporary. Only the contemporary theories of self-transcendence and gerotranscendence were testable and had been used as theoretical bases for multiple studies. Eighteen articles reported empirical research. Major themes identified were: adaptation; creativity; mindfulness (contemplation/introspection); meaning in life; purpose in life; relationships; spirituality; and well-being. The themes identified in this review of the literature were largely congruent with recently developed theory that proposes five domains of self-transcendence. This review suggests an additional domain – adaptation – may play a part in transcendence, and two domains – introspection and contemplation – might be collapsed into a single domain titled mindfulness. Transcendence provides a theoretical basis for nursing research to increase quality of life among older adults. Interventional studies are needed to examine the potential role of transcendence in developing evidence-based nursing practices.

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Transcendence in Older Adults: A Review of Recent Literature

Transcendence is an inherent aspect of maturity that changes one’s perspective on self, others, and the meaning of life. Literature published since 2008 was reviewed to update our understanding of the concept of transcendence. CINAHL, MedLine, AgeLine, and PsycInfo databases were searched for the terms: transcendence, self-transcendence, and gerotranscendence. Inclusion criteria were: explicit definition among older adults, basis in theory, or late life developmental process. Twenty-four articles were included. Content analysis was performed by examining: 1) search terms; 2) seminal vs. contemporary theory, and 3) theory vs. empirical research. Literature was coded for broad categories and major themes were identified. Five theoretical viewpoints on transcendence were identified: three seminal and two contemporary. Only the contemporary theories of self-transcendence and gerotranscendence were testable and had been used as theoretical bases for multiple studies. Eighteen articles reported empirical research. Major themes identified were: adaptation; creativity; mindfulness (contemplation/introspection); meaning in life; purpose in life; relationships; spirituality; and well-being. The themes identified in this review of the literature were largely congruent with recently developed theory that proposes five domains of self-transcendence. This review suggests an additional domain – adaptation – may play a part in transcendence, and two domains – introspection and contemplation – might be collapsed into a single domain titled mindfulness. Transcendence provides a theoretical basis for nursing research to increase quality of life among older adults. Interventional studies are needed to examine the potential role of transcendence in developing evidence-based nursing practices.