Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type

Restricted to Claremont Colleges Dissertation

Degree Name

Health Promotion Sciences, PhD

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Paula Palmer

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Bin Xie

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Jessica DeHart

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The older adult population will continue to grow at an alarming rate and will comprise 21% of the population by the year 2030. Older Pacific Islanders (PIs) will experience a similar growth trajectory. By 2030, older PIs will account for 13.2% of the PI population, a two-fold increase from the 6.5% reported in 2010. Therefore, the overall well-being of older adults is a critical part of public health. Healthy aging is an approach that focuses on the strengths of older adults by reinforcing methods that improve or enhance intrinsic capacities and functional abilities of older adults, while minimizing the limitations, vulnerabilities, and losses. Resilience is a main contributor to healthy aging, yet research on the topic is emerging with noticeable gaps. In response, a pilot research project with older PIs residing in Southern California was conducted. The study goal was to investigate certain intrapersonal, social, cultural, and environmental factors that improve or hinder resilience. Based on this goal, the three main areas of study are: first, the impact sleep has on the relationship between resilience and self-reported health (SRH); second, an exploration of the ethno-cultural PI narrative of resilience and adaptation to adverse events among higher and lower resilient older adults; and third, an investigation into the effects social capital domains have on resilience. Results suggest that individual (sleep duration), intrapersonal (social support and religion), and community (neighborhood social cohesion and community engagement) level factors can affect resilience. Sleep duration had a small to moderate effect (R2 Change=.122) on the relationship between resilience and SRH (β = -0.012, t(9,23) = -2.27, p=.033). For older adults with short sleep duration, resilience was a positive influence on SRH but not among participants with long sleep. Social support from family and friends and religion were relied upon most frequently by the study population while dealing with adversity (80.0% and 74.3%, respectively), compared with 17.1% who tried to resolve the challenge on their own. Higher and lower resilient older PIs did not significantly differ on the methods employed to adapt to an adverse event. Neighborhood social cohesion was positively related to resilience (β=0.36, SE=0.14, p=.018) and explained 16.7% (Adj. R2 = .167) of the variance. Greater community engagement was also significantly associated with higher levels of resilience, but only when accounting for age and gender. Accordingly, public health professionals and other allied health care practitioners should incorporate a multilevel approach when designing initiatives to develop resilience among older PIs.