Publications

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    ABSTRACT: This study examines the complex role of family networks in shaping adult psychological well-being over time. We examine the unique and interactive longitudinal influences of family structure (i.e., composition and size) and negative family relationship quality on psychological well-being among young (ages 18-34), middle-aged (ages 35-49), and older adults (ages 50+). A sample of 881 adults (72% White; 26% Black) was drawn from the longitudinal Social Relations, Age, and Health Study. Structural equation modeling indicated that among young and middle-aged adults, increasing family negativity was associated with increases in depressive symptoms over time. In contrast, among older adults, lowered proportion of family in network and an increasing number of family members in the network (i.e., family size) were associated with decreases in depressive symptoms. These findings were moderated by family negativity. Among older adults with low family negativity, having a lower proportion of family and larger family size were associated with decreasing depressive symptoms, but there was no effect among those reporting high family negativity. Overall, these results contribute to an increased understanding of the complex, developmental nature of how family support influences well-being across the life span and highlights unique age differences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
    Developmental Psychology 01/2015; DOI:10.1037/a0038665 · 3.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The link between family relations and well-being in old age has received ample attention in the international literature, but remains least examined in the Arab region where cultural ideals assume positive intergenerational relations within families as the norm. In this paper, we employ survey data collected in Greater Beirut in 2009 to explore associations between family relations and health. over the life course. We tested (1) the extent to which age and social relation characteristics predict health; and (2) whether the association between age and health is stronger for those who report: smaller social networks and poorer relationship quality. We employed self-rated health and self-reported chronic illness as the health outcome measures and:social network size, positive quality and negative quality with family members as the social relations measures. Our findings suggest that social relations are differentially important depending on the health status indicator examined. The single dimension that influenced both self-rated health and the probability of reporting a chronic illness was positive relationship quality with spouse. Further, social relations, particularly having a negative relationship quality with spouse and adult child, exert stronger effects on both self-rated health and chronic illness for older compared to younger adults. The findings of the present study are important for clinical practitioners who often consider the role and importance of available social resources as they address the health needs of older adults.
    Le Journal médical libanais. The Lebanese medical journal 01/2015; 63(1):8-14.
  • Kristine J Ajrouch, Toni C Antonucci, Noah J Webster
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    ABSTRACT: . We examine how changes in social networks influence volunteerism through bridging (diversity) and bonding (spending time) mechanisms. We further investigate whether social network change substitutes or amplifies the effects of education on volunteerism. . Data (n = 543) are drawn from a two-wave survey of Social Relations and Health over the Life Course (SRHLC). Zero-inflated negative binomial regressions were conducted to test competing hypotheses about how changes in social network characteristics alone and in conjunction with education level predict likelihood and frequency of volunteering. . Changes in social networks were associated with volunteerism: as the proportion of family members decreased and the average number of network members living within a one-hour drive increased over time, participants reported higher odds of volunteering. The substitution hypothesis was supported: social networks that exhibited more geographic proximity and greater contact frequency over-time compensated for lower levels of education to predict volunteering more hours. . The dynamic role of social networks and the ways in which they may work through bridging and bonding to influence both likelihood and frequency of volunteering are discussed. The potential benefits of volunteerism in light of longer life expectancies and smaller families are also considered. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.
    The Journals of Gerontology Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 12/2014; DOI:10.1093/geronb/gbu166 · 2.85 Impact Factor
  • Toni C Antonucci, Noah J Webster
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    ABSTRACT: It is an exciting time to be a developmental scientist. We have advanced theoretical frameworks and developed ground-breaking methods for addressing questions of interest, ranging literally from cells to society. We know more now than we have ever known about human development and the base of acquired knowledge is increasing exponentially. In this paper we share some thoughts about where we are in the science of human development, how we got there, what may be going wrong and what may be going right. Finally, we offer some thoughts about where we go from here to assure that in the future we achieve the best developmental science possible.
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    ABSTRACT: This spotlight offers a unique window into factors affecting aging in Lebanon. As a bridge between east and west, both geographically and culturally, Lebanon has the fastest growing older adult population in the Arab region, but few societal resources to address its needs. In a country with a history of political instability and war, but also a culture with strong family values, aging adults in Lebanon are vulnerable in some ways and advantaged in others. Outmigration of youth is an important determinant of the wellbeing of the elderly. While often advantaged by remittances sent by their children, older Lebanese adults have less access to instrumental social and personal support previously provided by young adults in the family. How Lebanon manages these challenges is likely to foreshadow the future aging experience for much of the Arab region.
    The Gerontologist 10/2014; DOI:10.1093/geront/gnu095 · 2.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Despite a growing body of literature documenting the influence of social networks on health, less is known in other parts of the world. The current study investigates this link by clustering characteristics of network members nominated by older adults in Lebanon. We then identify the degree to which various types of people exist within the networks. This study further examines how network composition as measured by the proportion of each type (i.e., type proportions) is related to health; and the mediating role of positive support and trust in this process.
    The Journals of Gerontology Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 10/2014; DOI:10.1093/geronb/gbu149 · 2.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives: This study systematically analyzed convoys of social relations to investigate the ways in which gender and income shape patterns of social relations across the life course in Lebanon. Methods: Data were drawn from a representative sample of adults aged 18 and older in Greater Beirut, Lebanon (N = 500). Multiple linear regression and multilevel models were conducted to examine main and interactive effects of age, gender, and income on social relations. Findings indicate main effects of age, income, and gender on network structure and relationship quality. Older age was associated with larger network size, greater proportion of kin in network, higher positive and lower negative relationship quality. Higher income was associated with larger network size and decreased contact frequency. Female gender was also associated with decreased contact frequency. Gender interacted with income to influence network size and network composition. Higher income was associated with a larger network size and higher proportion of kin for women. Discussion: Findings suggest diversity in the experience of social relations. Such nuance is particularly relevant to the Lebanese context where family is the main source of support in old age. Policy makers and program planners may need to refrain from viewing social relations simplistically.
    The Gerontologist 02/2014; DOI:10.1093/geront/gnt209 · 2.48 Impact Factor
  • Toni C Antonucci, Kristine J Ajrouch, Kira S Birditt
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose of the Study: Social relations are a key aspect of aging and the life course. In this paper, we trace the scientific origins of the study of social relations, focusing in particular on research grounded in the convoy model. We first briefly review and critique influential historical studies to illustrate how the scientific study of social relations developed. Next, we highlight early and current findings grounded in the convoy model that have provided key insights into theory, method, policy, and practice in the study of aging. Early social relations research, while influential, lacked the combined approach of theoretical grounding and methodological rigor. Nevertheless, previous research findings, especially from anthropology, suggested the importance of social relations in the achievement of positive outcomes. Considering both life span and life course perspectives and grounded in a multidisciplinary perspective, the convoy model was developed to unify and consolidate scattered evidence while at the same time directing future empirical and applied research. Early findings are summarized, current evidence presented, and future directions projected. The convoy model has provided a useful framework in the study of aging, especially for understanding predictors and consequences of social relations across the life course.
    The Gerontologist 10/2013; DOI:10.1093/geront/gnt118 · 2.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Caregiving research has not accounted for increasingly diverse and complex marital and family histories of older Americans. The authors examined social relations and care-specific positive and negative support networks among late-life remarried wife dementia caregivers (N = 61) to determine associations among network structure, relationship quality with and support received from network members, and global assessments of family and stepfamily disagreement on caregiver well-being. Own family and friends predominated in the social relations and positive networks. Although over half (54%) of respondents included a stepfamily member in their positive networks, stepchildren comprised the largest group (35%) in the negative networks. Larger negative networks and actively negative interactions were related to greater caregiver burden, and more global disagreement with stepfamily was associated with greater depression and burden. The findings illustrate the complex nature of support and the value of targeted examinations of caregiving support dynamics among late-life remarried older adults and stepfamilies facing health demands.
    Journal of Marriage and Family 10/2013; 75(5). DOI:10.1111/jomf.12059 · 3.01 Impact Factor
  • Sojung Park, Toni Antonucci
    Journal of Women & Aging 04/2013; 25(2):199-200. DOI:10.1080/08952841.2013.760371 · 0.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The present study examined the complex way in which relationships with family and friends shape health and well-being in adulthood over time. Specifically, we explored whether the longitudinal effects of positive and negative family relationship quality on health and well-being differ in the context of varying levels of positive friend relationships. Data were from two waves (1992/1993 and 2005) of the Social Relations, Aging and Health Study. The sample included respondents aged 18 and older at Wave 1 who reported having a best friend at both waves (N = 455), and consisted of 291 (64%) women and 164 (36%) men. Wave 1 friend positivity and family positivity interacted to predict self-rated health but not self-esteem, indicating that among respondents with a less positive friend relationship, more positive family relationships were related to worse health at Wave 2. Wave 1 friend positivity and family negativity significantly interacted to predict self-rated health and self-esteem at Wave 2. The nature of the interactions were consistent in that among respondents with a more highly positive friend relationship, less negative family relationships were linked to better health and self-esteem at Wave 2. Findings provide insight into the complex way in which social relations impact positive outcomes in adulthood. Previous studies have documented the consistent and straightforward manner in which negative relationships impact health and well-being, whereas this study illustrates that the role of positive social relations is more variable and dependent on multiple relationship contexts.
    Research in Human Development 04/2013; 10(2). DOI:10.1080/15427609.2013.786562 · 1.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This paper documents experiences of stress among people 18+ (N = 500) in Beirut, Lebanon. We investigate the extent to which social relations function as a stabilizing factor for psychological health. Regression analyses indicate a curvilinear link between stress and psychological health. Both low and high levels of stress predict higher depressive symptoms. Among those aged 18–39 years, there is no buffering effect of social relations yet for those aged 40–59 years positive support quality buffers the effect of stress on depressive symptoms. Among those 60+ years old, negative support quality buffers the effect of stress on depressive symptoms. The function of social relations varies both in its main and buffering effects at different points in the life course. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
    01/2013; 26(1):15. DOI:10.1024/1662-9647/a000076
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    ABSTRACT: This paper addresses the health problems and opportunities that society will face in 2030. We propose a proactive model to combat the trend towards declining levels of physical activity and increasing obesity. The model emphasizes the need to increase physical activity among individuals of all ages. We focus on the right to move and the benefits of physical activity. The paper introduces a seven-level model that includes cells, creature (individual), clan (family), community, corporation, country, and culture. At each level the model delineates how increased or decreased physical activity influences health and well-being across the life span. It emphasizes the importance of combining multiple disciplines and corporate partners to produce a multifaceted cost-effective program that increases physical activity at all levels. The goal of this paper is to recognize exercise as a powerful, low-cost solution with positive benefits to cognitive, emotional, and physical health. Further, the model proposes that people of all ages should incorporate the "right to move" into their life style, thereby maximizing the potential to maintain health and well-being in a cost-effective, optimally influential manner.
    Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research 12/2012; 2012:873937. DOI:10.1155/2012/873937
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives. In Arab countries, the proportion of older adults is rapidly increasing, highlighting the need to conduct research on factors that influence aging. We describe the context-specific challenges faced and the solutions negotiated during the conduct of a survey study on family relations and aging in Greater Beirut, Lebanon. Method. Drawing on the experience of a recently completed survey study, we reflect on the context-specific challenges faced and the solutions negotiated during the phases of questionnaire construction, interviewer training, sampling, and participant recruitment as a means to contribute to the growing area of cross-cultural survey research. RESULTS: The social context of family relations influenced the nature of questions that can be included to obtain valid information. The unavailability of demographic data and the presence of cultural norms that promote deference to older adults also presented methodological challenges to the sampling and recruitment of older adults. Discussion. We provided illustrative examples on the importance of learning about a country's social and cultural contexts, and the necessity of exercising flexibility in decision making to ensure the collection of valid data and the successful completion of the study. Lessons learned inform elements of the research process in an Arab country, as well as bring to light unusual, yet generalizable, circumstances that will inform experiences in other cultural settings.
    The Journals of Gerontology Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 10/2012; 67(6):775-82. DOI:10.1093/geronb/gbs083 · 2.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It has long been known that despite well-documented improvements in longevity for most Americans, alarming disparities persist among racial groups and between the well-educated and those with less education. In this article we update estimates of the impact of race and education on past and present life expectancy, examine trends in disparities from 1990 through 2008, and place observed disparities in the context of a rapidly aging society that is emerging at a time of optimism about the next revolution in longevity. We found that in 2008 US adult men and women with fewer than twelve years of education had life expectancies not much better than those of all adults in the 1950s and 1960s. When race and education are combined, the disparity is even more striking. In 2008 white US men and women with 16 years or more of schooling had life expectancies far greater than black Americans with fewer than 12 years of education-14.2 years more for white men than black men, and 10.3 years more for white women than black women. These gaps have widened over time and have led to at least two "Americas," if not multiple others, in terms of life expectancy, demarcated by level of education and racial-group membership. The message for policy makers is clear: implement educational enhancements at young, middle, and older ages for people of all races, to reduce the large gap in health and longevity that persists today.
    Health Affairs 08/2012; 31(8):1803-13. DOI:10.1377/hlthaff.2011.0746 · 4.64 Impact Factor
  • Kira S. Birditt, Toni C. Antonucci
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    ABSTRACT: The marital tie is one of the most influential relationships in adulthood, with vast implications for well-being. This special issue uses diverse samples, examines individuals in different marital situations (engaged, married, divorced, and remarried), and considers martial situations with regard to several contexts (e.g., in-law relationships, marital happiness, support, caregiving, well-being) across the life span. This issue includes four articles examining several marital situations among different age groups. Articles examine formation of marital ties in early adulthood and implications for in-law relationships, the development of marital happiness over 16 years, the implications of marital quality for the divorce experience, and the caregiving experience among remarried caregivers. Overall, these studies highlight the complexity and the diversity of experiences in marriage, divorce, and remarriage which is especially critical given the increasingly complicated family structures individuals experience across the life span.
    Research in Human Development 04/2012; 9(2):103-105. DOI:10.1080/15427609.2012.680842 · 1.63 Impact Factor
  • Kira S Birditt, Toni C Antonucci, Lauren Tighe
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    ABSTRACT: Individuals often turn to their close social ties for support during stressful life events. Although a great deal of work examines perceived support (i.e., support believed to be available should an event occur), less is known about enacted support (i.e., support actually provided during stressful events), especially among middle-aged and older people. The present study investigated whether enacted support (emotional or instrumental) varies by relationship quality and stress appraisals. Participants included 152 adults (principal respondents; aged 50 to 69 years, 63% women) who had experienced three or more stressful life events in the last year and 180 of their identified supportive ties (core network members). Multilevel models revealed that higher quality relationships enact high levels of support irrespective of high or low stress appraisals. In contrast, lower quality relationships enact greater support under conditions of higher stress but less support under conditions of lower stress, suggesting that lower quality relationships are mobilized only under higher levels of stress. Findings are consistent with the support provision process model and highlight the importance of considering relationship context and the stress continuum in studies of enacted support among older adults. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
    Psychology and Aging 02/2012; 27(3):728-41. DOI:10.1037/a0026967 · 2.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We compare the close family resources of Baby Boomers (BBs) to previous cohorts of older adults at population level and then examine individual-level cohort comparisons of age-related trajectories of informal care availability from midlife into old age. Population data from the U.S. Census and from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) are used to identify a cohort similar to the BBs on marital status and fertility rates. Using generalized linear mixed models and 10-year longitudinal data from Depression and WWII parents (DWP; n = 1,052) and the parents of BBs (PBB; n = 3,573) in the HRS, we examine cohort differences in the time-varying likelihoods of being married and of having an adult child living within 10 miles. The DWP had similar informal care resources at entry to old age as is expected in the BB. Longitudinal analyses of the DWP and PBB cohorts in HRS reveal that the availability of family changes over time and that the DWP cohort was significantly less likely to have a spouse or a grown child living nearby. These findings, and future projections based on them, have significant implications for institutions and public policy concerned with the informal caregiving needs of the Boomer cohort as they age.
    The Gerontologist 01/2012; 52(2):177-88. DOI:10.1093/geront/gnr142 · 2.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There have been fundamental changes in the intergenerational family, and yet families continue to be an important part of people's lives. We use the convoy model to describe the factors that influence supportive relations within intergenerational families, beginning with a description of the changing structure of the intergenerational family. We next outline support exchanges, detailing how personal characteristics, especially gender, race, age and socio-economic status, and situational characteristics, in particular family structure and intergenerational context, influence support exchanges. Instrumental and emotional family exchanges are described, with special attention to the unique circumstances of care-giving in intergenerational families. We also examine the importance of recognising differences in the quality of intergenerational relations, again noting the influence of personal and situational characteristics. Variations in support quality, e.g. positive, negative and ambivalent, and its influence on wellbeing are discussed. As families and individuals change, differences emerge at the individual, family and societal levels. We consider the implications of changes and stability in intergenerational relations and make recommendations about how best to envisage and plan future intergenerational family support. Societies with fewer resources as well as individuals and families with diverse individual histories must be innovative and creative in meeting the needs of older people as well as those of all family members.
    Ageing and Society 09/2011; 31(07):1084 - 1106. DOI:10.1017/S0144686X1000098X · 1.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although recent attention has focused on the likelihood that contemporary sexual minority youth (i.e., gay, lesbian, bisexual [GLB]) are "coming out" at younger ages, few studies have examined whether early sexual orientation identity development is also present in older GLB cohorts. We analyzed retrospective data on the timing of sexual orientation milestones in a sample of sexual minorities drawn from the California Quality of Life Surveys. Latent profile analysis of 1,260 GLB adults, ages 18-84 years, identified 3 trajectories of development: early (n = 951; milestones spanning ages 12-20), middle (n = 239; milestones spanning ages 18-31), and late (n = 70; milestones spanning ages 32-43). Motivated by previous research on variability in adolescent developmental trajectories, we identified 2 subgroups in post hoc analyses of the early profile group: child onset (n = 284; milestones spanning ages 8-18) and teen onset (n = 667; milestones spanning ages 14-22). Nearly all patterns of development were identity centered, with average age of self-identification as GLB preceding average age of first same-sex sexual activity. Overall, younger participants and the majority of older participants were classified to the early profile, suggesting that early development is common regardless of age cohort. The additional gender differences observed in the onset and pace of sexual orientation identity development warrant future research.
    Developmental Psychology 09/2011; 47(6):1658-73. DOI:10.1037/a0025508 · 3.21 Impact Factor

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