Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

15946 Making a Difference: Resiliency In Older Lesbian Adults with Alcoholism

Friday, January 13, 2012: 8:30 AM
Penn Quarter B (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Noell L. Rowan, PhD, LCSW, CADC, Assistant Professor, Director of BSW Program, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
Background and Purpose: Little is known about the health and mental health challenges and strengths of older lesbian adults in recovery from alcoholism. Within the lesbian aging population, researchers note an increased likelihood for negative physical and mental health risk factors associated with alcoholism and other drug addiction (CSAT, 2001; Gabbay & Wahler, 2002; Jones, 2001; Satre, 2006; Wilsnack, et al., 2008). The primary aim for this study is to understand how older lesbian adults have recovered from alcoholism. This research presentation focuses on accessing the often hidden and understudied population of older lesbian adults in recovery from alcoholism in an effort to glean data to create social work interventions. Methods: Snowball sampling was used for this study within the metropolitan Louisville, Kentucky area. The Seidman (2006) approach of a three part semi-structured interview was utilized in a sample of 20 participants for a total of 60 interviews. In accordance with guidelines on phenomenological research, it is vital for immersion in the data to become more fully aware of the experiences of the respondent (Padgett, 2008; Patton, 2002; Wertz, 2005) and repeatedly listen to the interviews and read and reread the transcripts numerous times (Seidman, 2006; Wertz, 2005). A case study will be described to highlight the lived experience with emphasis on resiliency and quality of life. Results: A summary of an older lesbian adult (the first participant) is presented including multiple quotations to provide an in-depth description about how she navigated dealing with the intersection of identities of aging, sexual orientation, and alcoholism. Conclusion and Implications: Accessing virtually hidden populations for conducting research can be challenging. This presentation provides information about methods used to access a special population subset of older adults and in-depth results to illuminate the lived experiences and resiliency of older lesbian adults.