R36 Dissertation Proposal Abstract: Risk Factors for Social Isolation among African American Older Adults BACKGROUND: Social isolation is a significant public health issue among older adults in the United States. It is related to a host of negative health outcomes including mortality, worse self- rated physical health, higher depressive symptoms, worse sleep quality, and cognitive decline. Factors associated with social isolation among older adults include living alone, experiencing a significant life change, living in a rural community, belonging to a cultural minority group, having low income, and having severe physical and/or mental disabilities. To the investigator?s knowledge, there are few studies which examine social isolation among African American older adults, few studies that examine risk factors for social isolation among African American older adults, and one study that distinguishes between objective and subjective isolation among older African Americans.
The aims of the proposed study are: 1) to determine the risk factors associated with objective and subjective social isolation among older African Americans; and 2) to determine if risk factors associated with objective and subjective social isolation among older African Americans vary by age, gender, and living in a rural or urban environment. The theoretical model which influenced the development of the proposed study is the Convoy Model of Social Relations. The investigator hypothesizes that increases in objective isolation and subjective isolation will be associated with several risk factors, including lower education, lower income, worse self-rated health, increasing neighborhood physical disorder, and decreasing neighborhood social cohesion. Additionally, the investigator hypotheses that risk factors for social isolation among African American older adults vary by age, gender, and living in a rural or urban environment. METHODS:
The aims of the proposed study will be addressed using the Health and Retirement Study, Leave Behind Questionnaire dataset, 2008 and 2012 waves. Objective isolation will be operationalized using the social network index, and subjective isolation will be operationalized using the Hughes and colleagues 3 item loneliness scale. Descriptive statistics, T-Tests, ANOVAs, and multivariate regression analyses using lagged variables will be calculated. In general, social isolation at 2012 is regressed on social isolation and all risk factors in 2008. Additionally, interaction terms, testing the moderating effects of age, gender, and living in a rural or urban environment, will be used to address the study aims. Knowledge generated from the proposed study will be useful for designing ethnically tailored social isolation risk assessments, tailored isolation reducing interventions, and for policy and program development to decrease isolation among all older adults. This proposal is responsive to PAR-17-025 Aging Research Dissertation Awards to Increase Diversity.

Public Health Relevance

Risk Factors for Social Isolation among African American Older Adults Social isolation is associated with many negative health outcomes among older adults, and there are few studies which have examined differences in risk factors for social isolation among older African Americans. Older African Americans have a projected population growth of 99% between now and 2030, have an increased risk for becoming socially isolated, and are less likely to utilize health services in comparison to older Whites. Knowledge gained from the proposed study will be useful for creating ethnically tailored social isolation risk assessments, tailored isolation reducing interventions, and policy and program development to decrease isolation among African American older adults.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Type
Dissertation Award (R36)
Project #
5R36AG054647-02
Application #
9625071
Study Section
Neuroscience of Aging Review Committee (NIA)
Program Officer
Karraker, Amelia Wilkes
Project Start
2018-01-15
Project End
2019-12-31
Budget Start
2019-01-01
Budget End
2019-12-31
Support Year
2
Fiscal Year
2019
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Name
Washington University
Department
Type
Schools of Social Welfare/Work
DUNS #
068552207
City
Saint Louis
State
MO
Country
United States
Zip Code
63130