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Title:Patterns of Social Service Utilization of the Elderly: The Impact of Informal Support Networks
Author(s):Kao, Ti-Li Daniel
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Patchner, Michael A.,
Department / Program:Social Work
Discipline:Social Work
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Social Work
Abstract:Based on the ecological framework, the purpose of this study was to examine the composition and function of the elderly's informal networks, and to analyze the impact of these informal care systems on the elderly's utilization of formal social services. The sample consisted of 124 noninstitutionalized elderly, who were randomly drawn from a database of an agency serving the elderly in an East Central Illinois county. Data were collected by conducting personal interviews. On the average, interviews lasted 40 to 50 minutes, which were held at the participants' homes.
Major findings included: (1) Most of the elderly's informal support networks was composed largely to spouses, children, friends, and neighbors. For those who were married, spouse was the primary and immediate source of support. The average size of the informal support network was 8 people. Most of the network members lived within 30 minutes driving distance. (2) In many of the need areas, support given from the informal networks was regarded as primal; however, the elderly's needs were not being fully met by informal care alone. (3) The majority (88.7%) of the respondents indicated that they had used at least one formal social service during the past 12 months prior to the study. Different patterns were found in respect to the elderly's utilization of specific community-based social services. (4) From the overall perspective, a weak association between the elderly's use of informal assistance and formal social services utilization was found. However, different patterns and associations were revealed in each need-support area. Positive correlations of the informal assistance and formal service utilization were found to exist in the area of social, financial, and instrumental services, while a negative correlation was discovered in the use of information and referral assistance. Of emotional support and personal care assistance, informal supports were found to have a low association with utilization of formal services.
Implications for social work practice, social work research, and social policy planning in the area of gerontological social work were analyzed. Suggestions for future studies were discussed.
Issue Date:1988
Description:224 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1988.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8908727
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1988

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