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

16041 Multiple Role Occupancy and Material Support As Protective Factors for Chinese Older Adults' Psychological Well-Being: A Longitudinal Study Using Latent Growth Curve Analysis

Friday, January 13, 2012: 10:00 AM
Franklin Square (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Hsin Yi Hsiao, MBA , MSc, Ph.D. Student, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Ling Xu, MSW, Ph.D Candidate, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Iris Chi, DSW, Endowed Chair, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Merril Silverstein, PhD, Professor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Extensive research based on role enhancement theory in Western society has examined positive effects of multiple-role occupancy on health outcomes among working population. Very few studies examined the effect of multiple-role occupancy on psychological well-being among Chinese population of older adults over 60 whose family values, cultural tradition, and beliefs are drastically different from those of population in the United States. Chinese older adults in rural China have higher levels of depression nearly twice those of their urban counterparts due to poverty and lack of public services and support (Chen et al., 2005). Furthermore, most studies use cross-sectional design that adds difficulty to draw precise conclusions of causal relationships between multiple-role occupancy and psychological well-being. The present study investigated the relationship between the processes of multiple role occupancy and depression using a data set with four repeated measurements from 2001 to 2009 among 1696 older adults in rural China.

Multiple role occupancy was measured by the summed scale of three productive roles: a) worker; b) caregiver; and c) household chores provider, with a higher score indicating occupying more roles. Depression was measured by a nine-item scale based on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale (Redloff, 1977). All items were scored in frequency with which the participants had experienced each symptom in the past week (1 = rarely or none of the time to 3 = frequently). After recoding three items, the summed depression score ranged from 9 to 27, with a higher score indicating greater depression.

The results of the latent growth curve analysis show that the model fitted the data well (chi-sqaure values = 141, d.f. = 41, p = .000, RMSEA = .038, TLI= .939, CFI= .963). The initial level of multiple role occupancy has a significant negative effect on the initial level of depression (β= -1.168, p = .000), showing that the more roles older adults occupied, the lower the initial level of depression. The rate of change in multiple role occupancy negatively affected the rate of change in depression ( β= -1.168, p = .000). In addition, providing material support to family members negatively affected the initial levels of depression (β= -.676, p = .002).

Conclusions and Implications: As with previous studies using role enhancement perspective, the results of the present study show that Chinese older adults in rural areas who occupied high starting numbers of multiple roles had lower initial levels of depression. These older adults who reported an increase in numbers of multiple role occupancy across time rarely reported an increase in levels of depression. The findings suggest that multiple role occupancy and providing material support to family members have positive effects on Chinese older adults' psychological well-being. Implications for official social institutions in China are to provide resources to create meaningful productive roles for Chinese older adults and provide necessary support to facilitate them to assume these roles.

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