The underlying premise of the proposal is that research on social integration, social participation, and social support will be advanced by the development of new measures sensitive to variations in the contexts of social resources and role and other social demands of individuals as they progress through their life course. The major goal is to develop age and context sensitive measures of social integration, social participation, and social support, which is also structured and easy to use in community- level survey research. The project will blend quantitative and qualitative techniques in the instrument development process. In turns all measures will be used as a basic theoretical, methodological, and practical resource for all projects sponsored by the Cornell Applied Gerontology Research Institute. A practical goal of this project is the development of assessment instruments that can be used to identify elderly persons at risk for social isolation. The project builds on the investigator's experience as the developer of structured versions of contextually sensitive measures of life events, chronic difficulties, turning points, and role transitions. We will develop and pilot measures of 5 concepts critical to the study of social integration across the life course: 1) close emotional ties and their role in providing support; 2) changes in the functions of emotional and other functional ties during the process of role change and transition; 3) substitution of new ties, or transformation of less-close ties, to replace older ones lost through death or role change and transition; 4) levels of community involvement and integration; 5) religious and community participation as a source of emotional and practical support. All 5 of these new religious and community participation as a source of emotional and practical support. All 5 of these new series of measures will be rigorously validated against pre- existing, but less contextually-sensitive, measures for emotional support, changes in social support networks, substitution of ties, community involvement/integration, and support from religion. Each will also be piloted in short-term quasi-experimental studies to assess the """"""""added value"""""""" of using contextually-sensitive measures of social integration, participation, and support in studies of role and age-related transitions. In the later years of the project,w e will develop one or more assessment instruments for use by practitioners in the field that will help use identify persons with deficits in social integration.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Specialized Center (P50)
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Cornell University
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Suitor, J Jill; Gilligan, Megan; Johnson, Kaitlin et al. (2014) Caregiving, perceptions of maternal favoritism, and tension among siblings. Gerontologist 54:580-8
Suitor, J Jill; Gilligan, Megan; Johnson, Kaitlin et al. (2014) How widowhood shapes adult children's responses to mothers' preferences for care. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 69:95-102
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