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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Differences between participants and nonparticipants of a community-based senior health education program Berg, Shannon


The purpose of this study was to determine which factors, if any, are associated with participation in a formal seniors' health education program. It was hypothesized that three identifiable groups, two of which would be nonparticipants of the health education program of interest, would be found. One group of nonparticipants would be very active, and score more favourably than the other two subsamples on multi-dimensional health scales. This group were expected to be actively engaged in a satisfying lifestyle, and would perceive no need for the health education program. A second group of nonparticipants was expected to score less favourably than program participants on scales measuring multi-dimensional health and to be less active in the community. The second nonparticipant group was of primary interest to this study, as lower functioning on health and social support scales might constitute both risk factors which would target this group as possible participants, and identify barriers to their participation in the program. One hundred eighty respondents were surveyed from three sources: (1)participants of a seniors' health education program based in a senior centre; (2)residents of single family dwellings and (3) apartment buildings in a five-block radius around the senior centre. Respondents completed a standardised tool to measure physical, mental and social health, and a series of questions relating to community involvement and participation in the health education program of interest. The 63 program participants were found to be younger, and to have higher scores on measures of physical health and mobility, than nonparticipants. Nonparticipants were found to fall into two groups. One group was younger, had higher scores on measures of health, and was more likely to choose predisposing reasons for not attending the health education program, such as "Not interested" and "Don't need it". A second group of nonparticipants was found to be older, with lower scores on measures of health and social support. This second group of nonparticipants was more likely to choose enabling or reinforcing reasons for not attending, such as "Poor health", "Can't do exercise", "No transportation", "Can't afford it", or "Don't know anyone there". The information gained in this study suggests than direct outreach in some form would be required to recruit the group of nonparticipants who are identified in the literature as the target population for health education programs; that is, those who are economically or socially disadvantaged, older, less mobile or have chronic health problems.

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