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Res Aging. 2019 Jun;41(5):495-518. doi: 10.1177/0164027518822814. Epub 2019 Jan 9.

The State of Theory in LGBTQ Aging: Implications for Gerontological Scholarship.

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1 Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis, MO, USA.
2 School of Social Welfare, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA.
3 School of Social Work, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.


Social research in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) aging is a rapidly growing field, but an examination of the use of theory has not yet been conducted for its impact on the field's direction. We conducted a systematic review of empirical articles published in LGBTQ aging in the years 2009-2017 ( N = 102). Using a typology of theory use in scholarly articles, we analyzed these articles for the types of theories being used, the degree to which theories were used in each article, and the analytical function they served. We found that 52% of articles consistently applied theory, 23% implied or partially applied theory, and 25% presented as atheoretical. A wide range of theories were used and served multiple analytical functions such as concept development and explanation of findings. We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of theory use in this body of literature, especially with respect to implications for future knowledge development in the field.


LGBTQ aging; concepts; conceptual frameworks; social research; theory

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