Ethnic and class variations in promoting social activities among older adults

Iveris L. Martinez, Kristen Kim, Elizabeth Tanner, Linda P. Fried, Teresa Seeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Engagement in social activities impacts the health outcomes of older adults, especially as regards mortality and physical and cognitive disability. Participation and its benefits vary by socioeconomic gradient and ethnicity. This research aims to identify activities of interest to diverse older adults and factors that influence participation (barriers, motives, perceived benefits, and role expectations). We conducted five focus groups throughout Baltimore City with nonactive elders stratified by class, gender, and ethnicity. Activities, motives, and barriers varied across groups. Differences may exist in the challenges and facilitators for maintaining socially active lifestyles among different groups of older adults. Common barriers were found across the groups, in particular the absence of adequate transportation and financial resources, as well as health in the form of mobility difficulties. Nuanced differences among the groups described may help target interventions to particular groups as needed and create opportunities for engagement where extrinsic barriers might exist. Findings were disseminated to community partners to improve awareness of social factors in developing health-promoting strategies for active and meaningful roles for older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-119
Number of pages24
JournalActivities, Adaptation and Aging
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Barriers
  • Ethnicity
  • Qualitative research
  • Social activity
  • Socioeconomic
  • Volunteering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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