Year of Publication

2004

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Agriculture

Department

Family Studies

First Advisor

Raymond E. Forgue

Second Advisor

Claudia J. Heath

Abstract

Quality of life is a term that has been used in various ways by researchers in different fields. In regional or community research, researchers have been concerned to a large extent with a persons overall quality of life as affected by factors such as income, housing, marital status, gender, and regional/community human services. The present research concerns the relationship between perception of quality of life and the use of human services in the community. The data were from Lexington-Fayette County, Kentucky. Family systems theory served as the underlying conceptual framework for this study. Family systems theory would predict that residents perception of quality of life is generally affected by the availability/use of resources and services. These resources and services can be classified as internal and external. According to family systems theory, three domains were identified as potentially affecting ones perception of quality of life: (1) individual characteristics; (2) family characteristics, and (3) use of community human services. Results from the individual perspective showed that being currently married, ownership of residence, education, and young age were positive contributions to perceptions of quality of life. There were no gender or race differences in perceived quality of life. From a family perspective, perception of quality of life was influenced by household income and health situation. From the community human services perspective, neighborhood safety was an important contributor to perception of quality of life. As for financial assistance, turning to family or friends, banks, utility companies, Community Action Council or Department of Community-based Services, and Medicare were more common uses of services than churches or clergy, food banks, the Salvation Army, social/survivor income, and other persons or agencies. This study also investigated gender, income, and age differences in the association of perception of quality of life with the presence of urgent needs for basic living by use of community-based human services. The results provided a broad context for interpreting perception of quality of life. In conclusion, this study provided baseline information concerning perceptions of quality of life and use of community human services by households. The findings provided insight into residents perceptions of quality of life based on their individual characteristics, family situation, and community human services as components contributing to perceptions of quality of life.

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