Exploring Social Determinants of Health in Healthy Aging Among Older Adults: A Qualitative Study

Maria Cielito Robles, Alison O’brien, Nishat Islam, A. Camille McBride, Casey L. Corches, Maria Mansour, Sarah Bailey, Erica Thrash-Sall, Lesli E. Skolarus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The U.S. population is aging and diversifying. Older Black Americans comprise the largest racial minority group and experience greater disability than White Americans. Objectives: Within a long-standing, community-based research partnership, we explored the determinants of healthy aging in Flint Michigan, a low-income, predominantly Black American community recovering from a water crisis. Methods: Focus groups were conducted among older adults residing in Flint, Michigan. A grounded theory approach and constant comparison method was utilized for data analysis. Results: Five focus groups were conducted with 49 total participants. We identified four themes that impacted healthy aging: economic instability, health care access and quality, neighborhood and built environment, and social and community context. Economic instability heavily influenced the other themes. Conclusions: Economic instability is a barrier to healthy aging. As a result, we are testing an innovative cross-sector partnership combining older adult affordable housing and health care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-78
Number of pages8
JournalProgress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Community-based participatory research
  • aging
  • health disparities
  • older adults
  • social determinants of health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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