Date of Award

1-1-2012

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Sub-Department

Epidemiology

First Advisor

Robert McKeown

Abstract

Social capital and community participation have been widely examined, but the potential impact of trust within community-based and congregation-based groups has not often been considered. This is important area of research because these groups may provide a key context and/or mechanism for development of trust and could have an impact on participants' health. In an effort to further investigate this issue the Relationships in Community Groups Study was performed to develop a scale to assess particularized trust in community-based and congregation-based groups, and examine the relationship between group participation, particularized trust, and health. This study included three major aims. The first aim was to describe the psychometric properties of the newly developed trust scale. Internal consistency was high, with Cronbach alphas of 0.89 in community-based groups and 0.90 in congregation-based groups. Other validity assessments including content validity, criterion validity, construct validity, and mean comparisons showed positive results. These results suggest that the trust scale has sufficient reliability and validity and can be recommended for utilization in future research investigating trust in community groups both within and outside a congregation. The second aim of the study was to investigate the association between trust and group characteristics including type of group, length of group membership, frequency of participation, and number of people in the group, and to determine if these characteristics differ between community-based and congregation-based groups. Data were analyzed using an analysis of covariance (ANACOVA). In community-based groups, individuals who completed college and/or graduate study had a higher mean trust score than those who did not complete high school (p=0.021), individuals who participated in their group several times a week had a higher mean trust score than those who only participated several times a year (p=0.020), and individuals who participated in small groups (15 or less) had higher mean trust scores than those who participated in large groups of 100 or more (p=0.009). In congregation-based groups, individuals who participated in an informal group had a higher mean trust score than those who participated in a formal group (p=0.038) and individuals who participated in their group for 1 to 2 years and 3-10 years had a higher mean trust scores than those who participated in their group for less and 1 year (p=0.026). The results of this study suggest that efforts to promote certain group characteristics in community-based and congregation-based groups may help to create environments that promote better quality, trusting relationships. The third aim of the study was to determine if trust is associated with positive physical and mental health outcomes measured by the SF12v2, and if the association of trust and health differs between community-based and congregation-based groups. Data were analyzed using an ANACOVA. In community-based groups, a significant positive association was found between mental health and trust (p=0.016). A significant positive association was also found between mental health and trust (p=0.016) in congregation-based groups. No significant associations were observed between trust and physical health in either community-based or congregation-based groups. This is an important public health finding and may provide evidence for methods to promote mental well-being. Although, the findings from this study provide insight to current trust and social capital research, further research is needed to test these relationships in longitudinal and large-scale studies to better understand the relationship between particularized trust, group participation, and physical and mental health.

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