CHARLTON, SARAH LYNN; PHD

                         UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA, 1989
                         HEALTH SCIENCES, NURSING (0569); GERONTOLOGY (0351)

                         The purpose of this research was to examine the impact of a social support intervention, Bone Up On
                         Arthritis (BUOA), on social support, pain, helplessness, and depression of retirement community
                         residents. Results were compared with findings from a group of 56 elderly BUOA participants who
                         resided in geographic communities. The impact of the intervention on social support networks of one
                         retirement community was also studied. The research included quasi-experimental and descriptive
                         designs. Forty-six subjects from three retirement communities participated in BUOA. Subjects were
                         elderly (M = 78.4 years), well-educated (M = 13.9 years) and predominantly female (85%). The other
                         subjects were similar. Data were collected immediately before and four months after the intervention
                         began. The dependent variables were assessed using standard measures, except for social support
                         network, which was assessed by the Social Network Interview developed by the researcher. Data were
                         analyzed using t test, multiple regression, analysis of variance, and multivariate analysis of variance.
                         Mean, median, mode, and range were utilized to describe the social network data. Preliminary analyses
                         demonstrated a significant pretest to posttest decrease in helplessness among program participants at
                         the p =.05 level. There were no significant changes in the other dependent variables. None of the
                         demographic variables were significantly related to changes in the dependent variables except for
                         religion, which was significantly related to change in pain. Pretest social support was found to be a
                         significant predictor of change in depression. The size of the social support networks of the respondents
                         ranged from 5 to 44 persons, with most of the persons named residing either in the retirement
                         community or surrounding area. The size of the social support network of respondents who participated
                         in BUOA increased by almost four persons, while the size of the social support network of respondents
                         who did not participate decreased slightly. These changes were not statistically significant. The findings
                         were not consistent with other studies that have demonstrated favorable outcomes resulting from similar
                         interventions. Statistically significant findings may have occurred with a larger sample that was more
                         severely affected by arthritis.


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