Date of Award

5-1-2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Rehabilitation

First Advisor

Robertson, Stacia

Abstract

Radical changes in the senior citizen population have been triggered by the addition of the baby-boomer generation, which drastically increased the growth of this cohort group. A determination of needs for this diverse group of people is necessary for clinical professionals to employ evidence-based practices in the daily provision of services. Purpose: The focus of this study was to measure quality-of-life indicators by concentrating on the association of chronic illness and mental well-being in predicting long-term relationship satisfaction. A sample of older adults were studied in relationship with health and wellness concerns guided by previous research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2011a), and the World Health Organization (1991). Methods: The population selected for this study was older adults participating in outpatient mental health services. A representative sample of 111 participants was used in the statistical analysis of this project. The utilization of the Revised Dyadic Adjustment Scale (Busby, Crane, Larson, & Christensen, 1995) established relationship satisfaction scores among this varied population. Correlation analysis was used to determine the association between seven variables. The factors of interest were: chronic health, chronic pain, mental health acute or chronic, and scores on mental health screenings routinely used in the outpatient mental health clinics included in this study. These variables were broken down in a hierarchical multiple regression model to find out if any factors predicted overall relationship satisfaction. Results: Hierarchical multiple regression analysis delineated an inverse relationship between mental health status (acute or chronic) and degree of overall relationship satisfaction. Chronic health conditions and pain ratings were positively related, however, did not associate negatively with overall relationship satisfaction as hypothesized. Positive relationships were found among the following variables: anxiety ratings and pain-related impairment, increased reports of anxiety with chronic mental health status, and pain ratings with higher risk for suicide. Low correlation coefficient values found throughout the statistical analysis make these findings tentative. Conclusions: The indications of this study confirmed a negative association between chronic mental illness and overall relationship satisfaction scores. This highlights the importance of addressing long-term psychiatric issues as an integral part of working with older adults. Age-related decline creates a functional need for reliance on others complicating satisfaction in intimate partnerships. Mental health practitioners need to be aware of the struggles found among the growing population of older adults to address their treatment and case management needs. Additional research is necessary to determine the indicators of relationship satisfaction impacting quality-of-life among older adults. Key words: quality-of-life, older adults, generational status, chronic illness, chronic pain, mental health, revised dyadic adjustment scale.

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