Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health and Human Sciences

Major Professor

James J. Neutens

Committee Members

Ralph G. Brockett, Diane A. Klein, Gregory C. Petty


With the number of people living longer and with more chronic problems, it is important that health educators examine who they are educating as well as the methods and circumstances of the education. The purpose of this study was to identify the relationship between self-directedness and health promotion in the elderly. A convenience sample of 108 elders who use Senior Centers in rural East Tennessee comprised the study group. The sample was asked to complete the Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale, the Health Promoting Lifestyle Profile II, and a demographic information survey at a regular meeting of a Senior Center. A positive relationship (r=.394; p<.005) was found between self-directedness as a measure of intrinsic motivation with participation in health promoting behaviors. Demographic information was used to describe the sample and was also used to determine if there was a relationship between any of the demographic items and health promotion practices or self-directed learning readiness. Participation in religious/spiritual activities was significant for both self-directed learning readiness and health promotion practices. Pender’s Revised Health Promotion Model and the Personal Responsibility Orientation Model provided an excellent basis for this study. The study confirmed the need for personal motivation in the elderly to accomplish increased participation in health promotion practices. Both self-directed learning readiness and health promoting behaviors were reviewed for consideration of previous research in the area, and theoretical perspectives. The key implication for practice is that health educators need to understand the motivation of their client prior to educating them regarding an aspect of health promotion. Recommendations for research include more qualitative studies. Almost all the studies available at present are quantitative and the reason for participation needs further investigation. Qualitative studies would enhance the information regarding the reasons for participation in health promotion.

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