Methods: We adapted the stepwise strategy characteristic of concept-mapping methods. 103 statements about “positive aging” and related concepts were derived from published research. Members from a stakeholder steering committee (SC) comprised of Latino and non-Latino scholars and community leaders and workers reviewed, edited, and reduced the list to 90 unique, “expert” statements. A purposeful sample of (N = 38) stakeholders used the Concept Systems Global Max software to sort these statements into categories and to rate their relative importance. The importance of the dimensions were rated by stakeholders in two comparisons: (a) Latinos vs. non-Latinos and (b) scholars vs. community leaders/workers. After the statements were intuitively sorted, the responses were subjected to statistical transformations involving principal components analysis, multidimensional scaling, and hierarchical cluster analysis to arrive at a penultimate map. This map was interpreted by the SC, who reviewed and labeled the final clusters.
Results: The final concept map displays ten dimensions within four overarching domains for positive aging: 1) Self-sufficient Living (Independence, Financial Security); 2) Maintaining Health (Physical Health, Cognitive Health); 3) Psychological Resources (Resilience, Positive Outlook); and 4) Social & Spiritual Life (Giving of Oneself, Reciprocity, Meaningful Relationships, Spirituality). With few exceptions, Latino and non-Latino stakeholders produced similar importance ratings for each dimension, with financial security rated as the most highly prioritized factor. The importance of Spirituality emerged as the most salient point of divergence between the scholar and community leaders and workers.
Implications: Findings provide current insight into the variety of “expert” assumptions held by researchers and practitioners about what comprises positive aging for Latino older adults. The divergence indicated by Spirituality suggests that community leaders and workers might have access to experience-near knowledge embedded in their work (i.e. observing clients attending services and/or informal participation through Spanish Radio programs) that might not necessarily be present for scholars. Such differences in conceptualizations should be considered when designing culturally sensitive programming to empower older Latinos to age well and reap the benefits of a meaningful social life.