Older Adults Living in Disadvantaged Areas: Protocol for a Mixed Methods Baseline Study on Homes, Quality of Life, and Participation in Transitioning Neighborhoods

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BACKGROUND: Swedish policy states that older adults should be able to age safely with continued independence and lead active lives. However, this plays out differently in different Swedish municipalities depending upon degree of demographic change, globalization, and urbanization. Internationally, older adults living in disadvantaged areas have worse physical and mental health, activity restrictions, and reduced life expectancy. In Sweden, research on how disadvantaged areas impact older adults' quality of life is virtually nonexistent. We argue that disadvantaged areas exist in both urban and rural contexts.

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to investigate how older adults' homes and neighborhoods influence their community participation, quality of life, identity, and belonging in urban and rural disadvantaged areas in Sweden, and how these person-context dynamics are experienced by older adults in transitioning neighborhoods.

METHODS: The study has a mixed methods design and includes 3 phases. Adults 65 years and older living in certain urban and rural disadvantaged areas in the south of Sweden will be included. Phase 1 is an interview study in which qualitative data are collected on neighborhood attachment, identity, and belonging through semistructured interviews and photo-elicitation interviews with 40 subjects. A variety of qualitative data analysis procedures are used. In phase 2, a survey study will be conducted to explore associations between observable and self-rated aspects of housing and neighborhood (physical, social, and emotional), participation, and quality of life; 400 subjects will be recruited and added to the 40 phase-1 subjects for a total of 440. The survey will include standardized measures and study-specific questions. Survey data will be analyzed with mainstream statistical analyses and structural equation modeling to understand the interactions between quality of life, home and neighborhood factors, and sociodemographic factors. In phase 3, the integration study, survey data from the 40 participants who participated in both data collections will be analyzed together with qualitative data with a mixed methods analysis approach.

RESULTS: As of the submission of this protocol (August 2022), recruitment for the interview study is complete (N=39), and 267 participants have been recruited and have completed data collection in the survey study. We expect recruitment and data collection to be finalized by December 2022.

CONCLUSIONS: With an increasing proportion of older adults, an increasing number of disadvantaged areas, and an increasing dependency ratio in more than 50% of Swedish municipalities, these municipalities are transforming and becoming increasingly segregated. This study will add unique knowledge on what it is like to be older in a disadvantaged area and deepen knowledge on housing and health dynamics in later life. Further, the design of the current study will allow future follow-up studies to facilitate longitudinal analysis (if funding is granted) on aging in a transforming societal context.


TidskriftJMIR Research Protocols
StatusPublished - 2022 okt. 12

Bibliografisk information

©Marianne Granbom, Håkan Jönson, Anders Kottorp. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (https://www.researchprotocols.org), 12.10.2022.

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Annan hälsovetenskap
  • Social och ekonomisk geografi


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