Date of Degree

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Sociology

Advisor

Juan Battle

Committee Members

Jerry Watts

Marianne L. Fahs

Subject Categories

Demography, Population, and Ecology | Gerontology | Public Health | Race and Ethnicity | Urban Studies

Abstract

Durkheim argues that an individual is more vulnerable to self-destruction the more s/he is detached from the collective. This dissertation will explore the relative impact of social integration on older adults who have transitioned into their new roles in the social structure in relationship to their physical (obesity) and psychological (stress) health status. Additionally, the dissertation examines how social integration varies in its impact from one racial group to another, and how such variations influence the health status of the older adults who are members of these groups.

This dissertation employs data from the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging and Longevity's Health Indicators Project (HIP). It assesses the level of healthcare services obtained by older adults. Participants were interviewed at senior citizen centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City. A total of 1,870 seniors attending a representative sample of 56 senior citizen centers were surveyed. The data was stratified based on borough, race and center size, and used to compare the various responses of those individuals who self-identified as either Black or Hispanic to the responses of those who self-identified as White.

It was anticipated that the greater the level of social integration, the greater one's health status. However, the research found that social integration was not a valid predictor of health outcomes for aging adults. Rather, it was proven that healthcare experience and self-efficacy were instrumental in predicting the levels of obesity and stress in aging adults.

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