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Soc Sci Med. 2003 Aug;57(3):413-25.

Examining the disablement process among older Mexican American adults.

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Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, University of Texas Medical Branch, 1.128 Ewing Hall, Galveston, TX 77555-1153, USA.


The Disablement Process model (Verbrugge and Jette, Social Science & Medicine 38 (1994) 1) describes a pathway leading from pathology to impairment to functional limitations, and, ultimately to disability. Components of this model have been examined among older White adults; however, very little research has examined the disablement process among older adults of other ethnic groups. Our goal in this research is to evaluate the Disablement Process model using Activities of Daily Living (ADL) disability as the outcome among a representative group of older Mexican American adults in the Southwestern United States. Respondents are from two waves of the Hispanic Established Populations Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly (EPESE) (n=2439). Structural equation models (LISREL 8.30) are utilized to examine the Disablement Process model. We also investigate aspects of the original model that have potentially important effects on the process of becoming disabled, such as cognitive impairment and perceived emotional support. Findings from structural equation models suggest that the main pathway from pathology to ADL disability is through functional limitations among older Mexican Americans. Risk factors, especially age and gender, have significant indirect effects on ADL disability. The main pathway in the Disablement Process model receives preliminary support among older Mexican Americans. We discuss implications of this model for future research.

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