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Health Promot Int. 2009 Mar;24(1):46-57. doi: 10.1093/heapro/dan039. Epub 2008 Dec 20.

Staying connected: neighbourhood correlates of social participation among older adults living in an urban environment in Montréal, Quebec.

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Faculty of Nursing, Université de Montréal, Quebec, Canada.


Alongside community involvement, promoting social participation has been identified as a key strategy of fostering empowerment, one of the central tenets of the health promotion movement. Engagement in social and productive activities appears to be particularly beneficial to older adults, as it has been found to be associated with positive outcomes on a variety of health indicators. It is therefore critical to identify factors that might lead to greater social participation within these age groups. The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between perceptions of neighbourhood user-friendliness and social participation while controlling for personal characteristics in a sample of seniors living in an urban environment. A convenience sample of older adults (n = 282) was recruited through community organizations located in high- average- and low-income Montreal neighbourhoods. Data were collected via an interviewer-administered questionnaire assessing social participation and various variables at the neighbourhood level (e.g. housing and social environment, walking environment and transportation, and services and amenities) and at the individual-level (e.g. health status and socio-demographic characteristics). Five variables emerged as independent predictors of social participation. Positive predictors retained in the final regression model included frequent walking episodes (almost every day), higher Vitality and General Health SF-12v2 scores, and perceived accessibility to key resources for older adults. Also included was a negative predictor: age (R2 of the final model = 0.28). Implications of the findings for research and action pertaining to ecological, health promotion interventions for older adults are identified.

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