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Is Collective Efficacy Age Graded? The Development and Evaluation of a New Measure of Collective Efficacy for Older Adults

DOI: 10.1155/2012/360254

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Objectives. Community processes are key determinants of older adults’ ability to age in place, but existing scales measuring these constructs may not provide accurate, unbiased measurements among older adults because they were designed with the concerns of child-rearing respondents in mind. This study examines the properties of a new theory-based measure of collective efficacy (CE) that accounts for the perspectives of older residents. Methods. Data come from the population-based Chicago Neighborhood Organization, Aging and Health study (N = 1,151), which surveyed adults aged 65 to 95. Using descriptive statistics, correlations, and factor analysis, we explored the acceptability, reliability, and validity of the new measure. Results. Principal component analysis indicated that the new scale measures a single latent factor. It had good internal consistency reliability, was highly correlated with the original scale, and was similarly associated with neighborhood exchange and disorder, self-rated health, mobility, and loneliness. The new scale also showed less age-differentiated nonresponse compared to the original scale. Discussion. The older adult CE scale has reliability and validity equivalent to that of the existing measure but benefits from a more developed theoretical grounding and reduced likelihood of age-related differential nonresponse. 1. Introduction Evidence suggests that community processes are important to older adults’ ability to age in place [1, 2]. Of the eight factors identified in the World Health Organization’s report on age-friendly cities [3], three seem fundamentally dependent on community processes. These three, Age-Friendly Outdoor Spaces (WHO factor 1), Social Participation (WHO factor 4), and Respect and Social Inclusion (WHO factor 5) may all be supported by structural innovations and resource infusion, but, in all likelihood, cannot be sustained without on-going community involvement. Community-level behavior is important not only for the immediate results produced by discrete actions and social exchange, but also for its role in shaping the perceptions and norms of behavior held by the community’s residents. The perceptions and norms of behavior likely relevant to the three WHO factors fall under the rubric of a well-developed sociological construct, collective efficacy. Collective efficacy (CE) refers to perceptions and norms of two categories of social processes that represent two kinds of community social resources: trust and connection, commonly referred to as social cohesion, and expectations for action, commonly


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