Social support factors and health among a senior center population in southern Ontario, Canada

Tanya R. Fitzpatrick, Richard J. Gitelson, Kathleen Andereck, Ellen Sue Mesbur

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Past research on senior centers has mainly focused on utilization, frequency, duration of attendance, participation or various activities and services. This study strives to go beyond previous research by examining social support factors and their relationship to mental and physical health across a senior center population in southern Ontario, Canada. Data were collected at two large senior centers in the Kitchener, Waterloo area. We used a self-administered survey among a sample of older participants (n = 186). One-way ANOVA with post-hoc Duncan's multiple range tests, t-tests, and linear regression analyses were used to examine the influence of social support (friendship, caregiving and advice) on mental and physical health. The results indicated that caregiving is significantly related to physical health, how respondents feel in general, and happiness with personal life. Advice from others is significantly related to perceptions of having a life full of interesting things. Additionally, respondents who are volunteers perceive better health and social support than non-volunteers, those who eat at the center perceive better health and caregiving support, and those that started a new activity perceived better health and social support from friendships. Implications for social work practice, policy and future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-37
Number of pages23
JournalSocial Work in Health Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004


  • Canadian senior centers
  • Mental and physical health
  • Social support
  • Social work interventions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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