Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

School of Public Health

First Advisor

Joan K. Monin

Second Advisor

Becca R. Levy

Abstract

Negative stereotypes of aging are widespread in American culture and have been shown to have detrimental effects on the health of older individuals. Little has been done to examine the dynamics of views on aging in older adult relationships. We aim to examine the stereotypes of aging held by older married couples in which one individual has a musculoskeletal condition. Specifically we're interested in seeing if an individual's stereotypes of aging affect (1) their own physical and psychological, and relationship health (2) their partner's physical, psychological, and relationship health and (3) whether there are interaction effects of aging attitudes in relationships in predicting these health outcomes. Using self-report questionnaires, we obtained data describing participants' health conditions, depressive symptoms, and martial satisfaction as well as a measure of their attitudes toward aging asking them to provide 5 words related to aging (Levy & Langer, 1994). Those words were coded on a 5 point scale of positivity. Baseline blood pressure readings were also taken of all participants in the study. We found there to be no significant correlations between attitudes of partners and no main effects of their attitudes on health outcomes. However, we found there to be significant interactions between partners' views on aging in predicting care recipient physical health status and caregiver blood pressure. Agreement of attitudes in relationships is associated with more sick care recipients and lower blood pressure for caregivers. Future research should be directed at further examining the dynamics between partner attitudes as a predictor of personal and relationship health as we found preliminary evidence that such dynamics do have an impact on the health outcomes of partners in relationships.

Comments

This is an Open Access Thesis.

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