The Effects of Community Differences on Health Status, Health Stress, and Helping Networks in a Sample of 900 Elderly


  • Deborah Bray Preston R.N., Ph.D.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Deborah Bray Preston is Associate Professor of Health Education and Nursing, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania.
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  • Julia A. Bucher R.N., Ph.D.

    1. Julia A. Bucher is Assistant Professor of Nursing, Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.
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Address correspondence to Deborah Bray Preston, R.N., Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University, 304 A Health and Human Development East, University Park, PA 16802.


Abstract Documenting the social and environmental conditions that promote the health and well-being of individuals is an important step in the advancement of community health nursing knowledge. With the current growth of community-based health care, it would seem to be a prerequisite for planning community-level interventions. The purpose of this research was to link structural properties of communities to the functioning of individuals. We examined the link between levels of community education and percent population change as derived from census data from 18 randomly selected communities and individual measures of health, health stress, and network support in a sample of 900 elderly living in these communities. Results indicate that when community education levels are high, community growth does not affect the health of the elderly which results in less stress with health and the need for fewer helpers. If, however, community education levels are low, and the population is growing, elderly experience poorer health and more health stress and they need more help.