205792 In Touch: Mind, Body & Spirit: A Collaborative Model of Inquiry and Practice in Support of African American Elders' Mental Health

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 9:15 AM

Laura Gitlin, PhD , Center for Applied Research on Aging and Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
Nancy L. Chernett, MPH , Center for Applied Research on Aging and Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
Marie-Monique Marthol, BS , Center in the Park, Philadelphia, PA
Lynn Fields-Harris, MPA , Center in the Park, Philadelphia, PA
Depression is a major public health concern for older adults with potentially adverse affects on the course and treatment of other chronic conditions. Though it has been shown that depression rates in African American older adults are similar to those of Whites, diagnosis and treatment rates reveal significant disparities. Research indicates there is still much to learn about older African Americans' beliefs about depression as a treatable health condition and preferred treatment approaches in order to reduce disparities in treatment and outcomes.

In Touch: Mind, Body and Spirit, is an academic-community partnership between the Jefferson Center for Applied Research on Aging and Health and Center in the Park, a senior center in Philadelphia serving African American elders, with the goal of creating a sustainable community-based infrastructure responsive to the social and cultural tenets of older African Americans and supporting systematic exploratory research to advance knowledge of their mental health needs. Exploratory studies revealed sources of distress and depression including lifetime encounters with adversity, past and present racial inequalities, financial, family and health concerns. Communication and trust of health care providers has also emerged as a pervasive theme. A range of adaptive and self-care strategies have been identified revealing culturally specific inner-strengths and resilience, along with reliance on spiritual beliefs and practices, and engagement in purposeful activities. Findings will be discussed as the basis for development and testing innovative community and home-based interventions to facilitate positive mental well-being for African American older adults, and sustaining and disseminating evidence-based community-level programs.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify health beliefs and practices that support mental well-being of African American older adults 2. Describe approaches to address depression care disparties in African Americans older adults

Keywords: Depression, Ethnic Minorities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have experience providing peer-reviewed presenations at national and local conferences on topics related to older adults, chronic conditions and disease management and mental health and aging topics over the past 8 years. I have previously presented at APHA conference.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.