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J Gerontol Soc Work. 2009 May-Jun;52(4):423-38. doi: 10.1080/01634370802609197.

A comparison of rural and urban older adults in Iowa on specific markers of successful aging.

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  • 1Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice, Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania 17815, USA.


This study examines the differences between rural and urban older adults on level of life satisfaction and depressive symptoms, focusing on the effect of social support. Data were collected through structured interviews at senior centers and senior meal sites in eastern and southeastern Iowa. The Duke Social Support Index (DSSI), the Life Satisfaction Index-Z (LSI-Z), and the Geriatric Depression Scale 15 (GDS15) were used. Correlations (Pearson's r), independent sample t-tests, and multiple regression were computed. Findings indicated that urban residents reported more depressive symptoms, as compared to rural residents. Subjective level of social support was a stronger predictor of life satisfaction and was more negatively related to depressive symptoms among rural than among urban older adults. Results suggest that social workers who work with aging people need to be aware of rural-urban differences in mental health. Furthermore, social workers need to have knowledge of older adults' social networks and work to ensure greater opportunity for social interaction.

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