Key Informants' Perceptions of Health Care for Elders at the U.S.-Mexico Border


  • Guifang Guo M.S.N., R.N.,

    1. Ph.D. Candidate, University of Arizona College of Nursing, Tucson, Arizona and Graduate Research Associate, Arizona Geriatric Education Center, Tucson, Arizona.
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  • Linda Phillips Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N

    1. Professor, University of Arizona College of Nursing, Tucson, Arizona and Director, Arizona Geriatric Education Center, Tucson, Arizona
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Guifang Guo, 1807 E. Elm Street, Tucson, AZ 85719. E-mail:


ABSTRACT Objective: This study was part of a systematic assessment to gain an understanding of aging in a rural community along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona.

Design: It used a participatory action research design. Interviews were conducted among key informants (n=29), including health and social services providers and community leaders. Content analysis focused on identifying common themes and concerns related to elders.

Results: Major themes identified were (1) social infrastructure issues, (2) community awareness of health problems, (3) socioeconomic problems, (4) cultural influences on health beliefs, practice, and use of services, (5) image of aging, (6) border issues, and (7) educational needs for service providers.

Conclusion: Elders living at the border are a particularly vulnerable population with strong cultural affiliations and health disparities. Although the population of elders has been growing at the border, the traditional focus on the health care needs of youth and children has contributed to the neglect of issues facing elders. This study provided community key informants' perspective of aging to community members, policy makers, service agencies, and health care providers for community development. A conceptual framework was developed for educational programs and research projects for health professionals who care for elders at the border.