Physicians and clergy as facilitators of formal services for older adults

Nancy E. Schoenberg, Karen A. Campbell, Mitzi M. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Researchers have sought to understand the determinants of the use of in-home and community-based services in order to better serve the needs of older adults. One component frequently included in formal service utilization models is the role of individuals who exert an influence on the service use process. An analysis of in-depth interviews conducted with 115 older adults revealed the important facilitating role that physicians and religious leaders play in encouraging the use of these services. The sample, which included African-American and white adults age 65+ from rural and urban environments, described various ways in which these “facilitators” influence the use of formal services. These ways include: (1) supplying instrumental support either by “ordering” a particular program for or linking the elder with the program and (2) providing informational and affective support, including advising or recommending the use of a program, conveying necessary background on formal services, and legitimizing the use of formal services. Regardless of personal characteristics (such as ethnicity and residence), a majority of elders in the sample recognized the important role played by physicians, and clergy. The acknowledgement of the role played by these facilitators should be viewed as an opportunity for physicians and clergy to enhance the knowledge and appropriate use of needed formal services for elders. In addition, these findings have policy implications for the current provision of aging services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-26
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Aging and Social Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 27 2000


  • Clergy
  • Community-based services
  • Facilitators
  • Formal services
  • Physicians

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Gerontology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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