Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Institutionalization is a process which affects 20% of Americans over 65 years. The research in the area has shown that, at least in some cases, this process may have deleterious effects on the elderly. Some suggest that relocation alone can be harmful, and may result in increased mortality or decreased adjustment. Others state that these effects may be moderated or reversed under the proper conditions. Still others propose that a person-situation match is the important factor in adjustment to an institution.

This study is a cross-sectional comparison of people who have lived in a nursing home for under one year. It was designed to determine the effects of length of residence on resident adjustment. Measures included in the study were: The Neugarten Life Satisfaction Index, Form A, The Stockton Geriatric Rating Scale, the Multiple Affect Adjective Checklist, and Semantic Differentials.

A one-way analysis of variance as well as correlational and partial correlational analyses were computed. Increased length of residence was found to be significantly related to increased patient-rated hostility and decline in physical and social functioning. All significant relationships between length of residence and measures of adjustment were in the predicted direction of increased residence and lowered adjustment.

The findings support a person-situation congruence model and a social status explanation of adjustment. Suggestions for further research included, among others, the utilization of longitudinal designs and older people to collect data. Most importantly, more research is necessary in this area.