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Harvey, Idethia Shevon (2005) THE ROLE OF SPIRITUALITY IN THE SELF-MANAGEMENT OF CHRONIC ILLNESS AMONG OLDER ADULTS. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Many older adults perceive spirituality as an important resource in their lives and spiritual practices as crucial to their health and well-being. Unfortunately, there is limited knowledge of how spirituality is defined by African American and Caucasian American men and women aged 65 years and older. In addition, less understanding on the role spirituality played in the self-management of chronic illness among this population. The purpose of this qualitative study was to define, explore, and describe spirituality in the life of chronically ill elders and to examine its relationship to self-management of chronic illness in terms of gender and race.The grounded theory approach guided the study design and analysis. This study used both comparative method and thematic content analysis in a sample of eighty-eight older adults in the �Self-Care Study,� a NIA-funded study on the process of self-care among older adults. The analytic technique of comparative method defined spirituality while thematic content analysis identified patterns of spirituality and self-management. Each in-depth interview was audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Results identified three types of spirituality: transpersonal transcendence, interpersonal transcendence, and intrapersonal transcendence. In describing the spiritual/self-management connection nine themes emerged: 1) God: the healer, 2) God: the enabler through doctors, 3) faith in God, 4) prayer as a mediator, 5) spirituality as a coping mechanism, 6) combining traditional medicine and spiritual practices, 7) selected spiritual practices of self-care, 8) empowering respondents to practice health-promoting activities, and 9) personal responsibilities in the self-management of illness.These findings suggest a new direction for public health practice, education, and research. Spirituality is a pervasive factor in this population and may help to ensure positive health-promoting behaviors. The public health significance of this study is great because it is important for public health educators to understand the role spirituality plays in the self-management of chronic illness among the elderly. The implications for public health educators and researchers are the possible collaboration with faith-based institutions to assess, plan, develop, and evaluate interventions within the context of older adults.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Harvey, Idethia
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSilverman, Myrnawoman@pitt.eduWOMAN
Committee MemberFord,
Committee MemberMcAllister, Carol Lallister@pitt.eduALLISTER
Committee MemberHigginbothan-Washington, Sharon
Committee MemberWatzlaf, Valerievalgeo@pitt.eduVALGEO
Date: 22 June 2005
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 2 August 2004
Approval Date: 22 June 2005
Submission Date: 13 April 2005
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: DrPH - Doctor of Public Health
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: chronic illness; older adults; self-management; spirituality
Other ID:, etd-04132005-130038
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:36
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:39


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