Relative association of multi‐level supportive environments on poor health among older adults

Nelda Mier, Marcia G. Ory, Samuel D. Towne, Matthew Lee Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: The aging of the United States population poses significant challenges to American healthcare and informal caregiving systems. Additional research is needed to understand how health promotion programs and policies based on a socio‐ecological perspective impact the health and well‐being of older persons. The purpose of this study was to investigate personal characteristics and supportive environments associated with poor health among older individuals aged 65 and over. Methods: This study used a cross‐sectional design and was guided by a conceptual framework developed by the authors to depict the relationship between personal characteristics and environments associated with poor health status. Environment types included in this study were family, home, financial, neighborhood, and healthcare. The sample was comprised of 1319 adults aged 65 years and older residing in Central Texas. From a random selection of households, participants were administered a mail‐based survey created by a community collaborative effort. Descriptive statistics and three binary logistic regression models were fitted to examine associations with poor health status (i.e., physical, mental, and combined physical/mental). Results: Two personal characteristics (number of chronic conditions and educational level) were consistently related (p < 0.05) to health outcomes. Supportive family, home, financial, neighborhood, and health care environmental factors were shown to be related (p < 0.05) to various aspects of physical or mental health outcomes. Conclusions: Multidimensional factors including personal characteristics and protective environments are related to health status among older individuals. The unique roles of each environment can help inform public health interventions to create and enhance support for older adults to engage in healthful activities and improve their physical and mental health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number387
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 6 2017


  • Aging
  • Health status
  • Mental health
  • Older adult
  • Physical health
  • Supportive environments
  • United States of America

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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