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Instruments

In order to guarantee the comparability of the answers from all assessments, each follow-up retained main aspects of the instruments used in the first wave of data collection, that is, the standardized Outdoor Mobility Survey 1995 and the semistructured interview guidelines for the in-depth 1996 interviews (Mollenkopf et al., 2003, 2004a). Both of the instruments included questions on objective factors as well as subjective ratings concerning important prerequisites for mobility such as health and socioeconomic status (individual factors), social networks, and the physical environment (environmental factors). The survey questionnaire was partially based on methods used in previous studies, such as the Finnish Evergreen project (Heikkinen, 1998), the Nordic Research on Ageing (NORA) study (Avlund, Kreiner, & Schultz-Larsen, 1993; Heikkinen, Berg, Schroll, Steen, & Viidik, 1997), and the German Welfare Survey (Zapf & Habich, 1996). Satisfaction with mobility, with the ability and opportunity to pursue leisure and other important life activities, and with

Table 15.1 Older adults’ out-of-home mobility in two German cities: Description of the sample (N = 82)

Characteristics

Year

1995

2000

2005

Mean age (years)

62.2

-

75.2

Size of household

n

%

n

%

n

%

Living alone

13

15.9

19

23.2

26

31.7

Living with others

69

84.1

63

76.8

56

68.3

Marital statusa

n

%

n

%

n

%

Married, living with a partner

66

80.5

61

74.4

54

65.9

Widowed

8

9.8

13

15.9

20

24.4

Satisfaction with the financial situation of the householdb

M

SD

M

SD

M

SD

7.7

1.8

7.6

2.0

7.0

2.4

Satisfaction with healthb

M

SD

M

SD

M

SD

7.3

2.1

6.9

2.4

6.7

2.5

Changes in health

n

%

n

%

n

%

Became better

6

7.3

3

3.6

Became worse

35

42.7

45

54.9

Remained the same

41

50.0

34

41.5

aThe analyses also included the characteristics married, living separately (n = 1), divorced (n = 3), and never married (n = 4), which comprised 10 % of each assessment.bSatisfaction was assessed on an 11-point scale ranging from 0 (lowest satisfaction) to 10 (highest satisfaction)

Design by authors life in general was assessed on an 11-point Likert-type scale ranging from 0 (lowest satisfaction) to 10 (highest satisfaction) (see Veenhoven, 1996; Zapf & Habich, 1996), which was also used in the German Welfare Survey and the German SocioEconomic Panel (SOEP).

The focus of the semistructured interview, representing the qualitative part of the assessment, was on the aging adults’ personal experiences and the subjective meanings they attributed to their out-of-home mobility options. In the second and third wave of assessment, additional questions were posed concerning changes between 1995 and 2000 and between 2000 and 2005 with respect to factors possibly affecting mobility.

Data Analyses

All interviews of the third assessment were tape recorded. After transcription of the qualitative portions of the interviews, content analysis (Mayring, 2003) was used to extract the main aspects and to group them into conceptually meaningful categories.

The statements quoted in the results section represent especially characteristic and meaningful examples from the extensive amount of material. All names were changed to comply with data protection acts.

Quantitative data records were analyzed using the SAS statistical package (SAS Institute, Inc.), and the analysis was kept simple because of the rather small sample size. Statistical testing consisted mostly of t-tests and chi-square tests, with the usual levels of p < .05* applying.

In this study we focus particularly on finding ways to combine quantitative and qualitative data so that each data-analytic component complements the other.

 
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