Friday, 14 January 2005 - 12:00 PM
This presentation is part of: Poster Session I
Use of Senior Centers as a Moderator of Psychological Distress Among Mexican-American, Cuban-American, and Puerto Rican EldersDiane Weis Farone, DSW, Arizona State University West, Tanya R. Fitzpatrick, PhD, Arizona State University West, and Thanh V. Tran, California State University at Los Angeles.
Use of Senior Centers as a Moderator of Psychological Distress Among Mexican-American, Cuban-American, and Puerto Rican Elders
Purpose: Previous studies have found an association between social stress and psychological distress. Although a substantial body of research supports the idea that social support has a moderating effect between stress and psychological distress, little is known about the moderating effects of community services on psychological distress among Latino elders. Much of the research that has been conducted on psychological distress among Latino elders explores causal pathways, such as poor health, poverty, ethnicity, and acculturation. This study goes beyond previous research by exploring the use of senior centers as an intervention strategy to moderate the impact of stress on psychological distress.
Methods: Data from the 1988 National Survey of Hispanic people (N=1866), was used to analyze whether participation in senior centers moderated the effects of social stress on psychological distress among three groups of elders: Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, and Puerto Ricans. Hierarchical regression analysis was used to test an interaction effect between social stress and the use of senior centers on psychological distress. Control variables included age, gender, marital status, education, ability to speak English, and ethnicity. Three models were tested: a base model including control variables, a direct effect model including control variables and use of senior centers, and an interaction effect model including the interaction (social stress x use of senior center) as well as the control variables and use of senior centers.
Results: The results from the baseline model revealed that stress has a detrimental effect on psychological distress, and being Puerto Rican is a significant predictor of psychological distress.The results of the interaction model indicated that the use of senior centers moderates the effect of stress on psychological distress among the three groups of Latino Elders. This sugests that the negative effects of social stress can be made less severe by participating in senior centers among Latino elders.
Implications: Study results indicate that use of senior centers can be effective in reducing psychological distress for those who are experiencing social stresses. An analysis of the characteristics of the three ethnic groups indicates the effect may be particularly relevant for those who live alone, as Puerto Ricans were less likely to be married and more likely to live alone than the rest of the Latino population. They were also more likely to speak English, which would make senior centers more accessible. Further study is needed to better understand what attractions and barriers Latino elders perceive in terms of access to senior centers. Prior research indicates social support may have a curvilinear relationship with psychological distress. Future research could explore the extent to which the effect of use of senior centers in moderating psychological distress may be specific to people who either have more limited family and friends or who are overly enmeshed with family.
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