Theses Doctoral

Community reintegration among Latino stroke survivors: An ecological framework

Aguirre, Alejandra Nicole

Purpose: In the United States, stroke is the leading cause of disability. The majority of survivors sustain permanent physical and/or cognitive impairments. Stroke survivors with impairments experience depression, loss of functional independence, and poor quality of life (QOL). Stroke disparities exist among different racial and ethnic groups of the US population. Latinos experience a first time stroke at a younger age compared to non-Latino Whites. As a result, Latinos live with impairments for a greater number of years. The vast majority of stroke survivors return to live in their communities. Reintegrating into home and social activities is key to survivors’ perceived QOL. This dissertation project sought to understand from an ecological framework the post-stroke community reintegration experiences of Latino older adults in an urban New York City neighborhood. The study also sought to examine the viewpoints of health and social service providers, whose opinions, actions, and programs can support stroke survivors’ reintegration into community.
Methods: Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted with 30 Latino stroke survivors 50 years of age and older who had experienced a disabling stroke within 36 months. In addition, 20 health and social service providers based in a large medical center, and multiple senior centers in the northern Manhattan section of New York City were interviewed. The stroke survivor data was analyzed using a phenomenological approach. A thematic analysis approach was used to analyze the data from the health and social service informants. Data analysis identified physical, psychological, social, and environmental factors pertinent to stroke survivors’ community integration experiences. These identified factors were categorized into macro-, exo-, meso-, and micro-levels to capture the psycho, social, and environmental ecology in which community reintegration takes place for Latino stroke survivors.
Results: Qualitative accounts of survivors revealed several microsystem factors, including a struggle to maintain a positive self-concept and to engage in activities associated with valued identities and roles, while simultaneously suffering chronic pain, fatigue, and functional limitations. Changes in their affect lead survivors to socially isolate themselves. In addition, they relied more on women than men for social support, a salient mesosystem factor. Survivors encountered significant exosystem level barriers in the environment that limited their ability to travel and access activities. For some, these barriers inadvertently left survivors homebound. Survivors also encountered a societal culture, a macrosystem factor, which stigmatized them due to their impairments. Interviews with health and social service professionals revealed various factors that influenced community reintegration of people with stroke. At the macrosystem level, funding for programs and healthcare financing dictated services and eligibility criteria. In the exosystem, a segmented medical model of care postponed the conversation on community integration. Professional practices, organizational level constraints and culture were mesosystem level factors that influenced community reintegration. The confluence of these factors created an ecological system that influenced stroke survivors’ opportunities to socially engage in their home and community life.
Conclusion: An ecological approach provides a useful framework to understand the complexity and potential interplay of factors that contribute to community integration post-stroke for Latino older adults in an urban area.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Sociomedical Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Abraido-Lanza, Ana F.
Dr.P.H., Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Published Here
June 4, 2018