Thesis directed by Associate Professor Peter G. Ossorio
The purpose of the study was to develop a model of the relation between community environment and individual functioning which would be of utility in identifying information about a community to provide a rational basis for allocating mental health and health resources there.
For the purpose of understanding the implications of the circumstances of life for individuals in the Colorado coal mining community where the study was carried out, a set of basic human needs was developed by selecting from among needs presented by previous researchers and by adding certain other dimensions that were viewed as essential. The set of basic human needs included in the model was the following: (1) Physical Health; (2) Safety and Security; (3) Self-Esteem and Worth; (4) Love and Affiliation; (5) Agency and Autonomy; (6) Adequacy and Competence; (7) Identity; (8) Belonging and Acceptance; (9) Disengagement; (10) Order, Understanding and Predictability; (11) Personal and Social Legitimacy; and (12) Meaning, Hope and Significance.
A basic human need was defined in this model as a condition or requirement for the individual which if not met will result in a pathological state. It was expected that, within the community studied, there would be certain regularities in terms of the kinds and variety of options for the satisfaction of basic human needs that were available to different groups of persons there. Because of these regularities, it was expected to be more or less difficult for the various groups to satisfy their basic human needs. It was expected that more pathology would accompany greater need frustration.
The research proceeded in five stages: (1) Community interviews were carried out in order to allow the researchers to gain a comprehensive understanding of the circumstances of life for persons in different age and sex groups in the community; (2) The interviews were analyzed and the characteristics of the community relevant to basic human need satisfaction for these groups were identified; (3) A questionnaire instrument was developed which allowed members of each subgroup to give self-reports of both basic human need frustration and of mental health symptoms; (4) A community survey was carried out with a sample of 138 community members from eight age and sex groups utilizing the questionnaire; (5) Data from both community interviews and the community survey were reduced and analyzed.
It was predicted that researcher assessments of basic human need frustration for community subgroups would be significantly related to respondent self-reports of need frustration. It was also predicted that both researcher assessments of basic human need frustration and respondent self-reports of need frustration would be significantly related to respondent self-reports of mental health and health symptoms.
Results of a Pearson product moment intercorrelation across groups indicated no significant relationship between researcher estimates of basic human need frustration and respondent self-reports of frustration. Results of a Pearson product moment intercorrelation across groups also indicated no significant relationship between researcher estimates of basic human need frustration and respondent self-reports of mental health and health symptoms.
Results of group by group Pearson product moment intercorrelations indicated significant relationships between respondent self-reports of basic human need frustration and respondent self-reports of mental health symptoms for five of the eight community subgroups studied, and indicated significant relationships between self-reports of need frustration and self-reports of health symptoms for four of the eight community subgroups studied. The results overall provided support for the utility of the model as a preliminary basis for community planning.
The character of life in this deep coal mining community, and implications for programs of intervention to address sources of need frustration, were addressed. [355 pp.]