Differences in Health Outcomes Among Four Groups of Religiously-Involved African American Caregivers: An Exploration of Moral Community Theory
By 2050, the nation's elderly population will increase to over 88 million. The number of African American elders will expand to 9.9 million. Family members will likely provide the bulk of care to this increasing population of frail Black elders, as African Americans are much less likely to utilize formal caregiving services for their elderly loved ones. The associated health burden of eldercare is well documented. It is also widely known that religion has been fundamental in the lives of many African Americans for decades. Guided by moral community theory, this study conducted a secondary analysis of a cross-sectional survey research design and examined differences in health outcomes among four groups of religiously involved African American caregivers (n = 262). The original study utilized a purposive, non-probability sample. Eligible participants were at least 18 years old and provided unpaid care to a loved one age 50 or older. The purpose of the study was to investigate how differences in organizational and personal manifestations of religious involvement impact caregiving stress, social support, physical health, and depression among African American caregivers. The independent variable was a composite variable comprised of two measures, organizational religiosity and personal religiosity, which permitted the formation of four groups. One-way ANOVA and Discriminant Function Analysis (DFA) were utilized to test four bivariate hypotheses and one multivariate hypothesis. Bivariate results only yielded a statistically significant difference in depression scores among the four groups. Similarly, statistically significant findings from the DFA noted that depression scores alone delineated the four groups and produced relatively high correct classification rates among participants in the two groups with either high or low levels of both organizational and personal religiosity. Results suggest that combined involvement in organizational religiosity and personal religiosity can positively impact the mental health of African American caregivers, which gives credence to moral community theory and provides an expanded application of this theory to health outcomes among a caregiving population. This research will aid the social work profession and faith community in developing the most appropriate services for addressing mental health needs among African American caregivers, grounded within moral community connectedness.
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