Correlates of Social Function

A Comparison of a Black and a White Sample of Older Persons in Los Angeles

Published in: Journal of Applied Gerontology, v. 22, no. 1, Mar. 2003, p. 3-18

by William Cunningham, Ron D. Hays, Tanya Burton, David Reuben, Raynard Kington

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This study compares social functioning between one Black (n = 560) and one White (n = 1350) urban, community-based sample of older persons in Los Angeles. A 3-item social function scale that assessed visiting with family and friends, participating in community activities, and taking care of other people was administered; the instrument also assessed basic activities of daily living (BADL) and intermediate activities of daily living (IADL). In multivariate analysis, social function was substantially higher for Blacks than for Whites, although BADL and IADL scores were somewhat lower for Blacks. BADLS, IADLS, being male, and being married were positively associated with social function among Blacks; IADLS, owning a home, and history of falls were negatively associated with social function among Whites. The high social function of Black, despite more physical limitations, suggests that even physically impaired Black older persons in the South Central Los Angeles community may remain actively involved in the family and community.

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