Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Social Work

Major Professor

Sherry M. Cummings

Committee Members

William R. Nugent, Robert T. Ladd, Sunha Choi


This multi-manuscript dissertation focuses on the relationships between the physical home environment, personal competencies, and psychological well-being among older adults living in community settings. The ecological model of aging serves as the guiding theoretical framework for the exploration and design of the subsequent studies. The first paper is a critical review of the literature. Results suggest that there is little consistency in the measurement of the physical home environment across studies. Also, more research is needed to clarify the relationships between the three major constructs and to expand the area of study to U.S. populations. Finally, some support exists to suggest that personal competence moderates the effect of the physical home environment on psychological well-being. Recommendations for research and practice are given.

The second and third paper follow the research recommendations of paper one. To begin exploring the relationships between the constructs among U.S. based samples, the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) round 1 data are used. NHATS is a population-based sample of older adults drawn from the Medicare Enrollment File, which represents 96% of seniors in the continental United States.

The second paper is a description of a confirmatory factor analytic (CFA) approach that tests an a priori measurement model. The sample of 6,665 community-dwelling respondents is randomly split into two subsamples (sample 1= 3,330 and sample 2= 3,335). The proposed measurement model is then refined with the first sample and validated with the second sample. The final paper describes the process of fitting a structural model to the data of the entire sample and testing whether personal competence moderates the effect of physical home environment on psychological well-being.

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