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Providing mental health services to the elderly generally and particularly to elderly Native Americans has been an issue of some concern for the last several decades. Despite this rise in concern for the mental health of elderly Americans, however, the fact remains that public decisions are made based on inadequate data. As Birren and Renner state: "A major problem has been that our knowledge of the mental health problems and the frequency of psychiatric disturbances in the elderly has a weak information base." When on turns to minority elderly in general and elderly Native Americans in particular, the data base virtually disappears. In fact, the survey upon which much of this study rests represents "the first research effort ever undertaken to document the conditions of life of older Native American and Alaskan native people nationwide." Because of this lack of data, there has been little research devoted to determining the factors associated with mental health among elderly Native Americans. Instead, the growing body of mental health research "has been based on limited samples, primarily of middle-majority Anglos." Thus, the purpose of this research is to utilize existing data to close this gap in our understanding of mental health among elderly Native Americans. Specifically, multiple regression will be employed to describe the relationship between mental health and several theoretically-derived independent variables. Initially, this will involve a determination of whether the same relationships that hold for the dominant population are consistent with data drawn from elderly Native Americans and, if not, what alternative models should be examined. Secondly, the research will attempt to assess the relative importance of the various independent variables on mental health as well as analyze the interrelationships among these independent variables.
Garland Publishing Inc.
mental health, Native Americans
School of Professional and Continuing Studies
Psychiatric and Mental Health
Narduzzi, James L. Mental Health Among Elderly Native Americans. New York: Garland Pub., 1994.