Engineering, 2013, 5, 137-139 Published Online October 2013 (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. ENG
The Study on Community Health Education of Empty
Nest Elderly
Ling Gao1, Xue Cao1,2, Min Zhang1
1Beihua University, Jilin, China
2Baicheng Medical College, Baicheng, China
Email: bhga
Received April 2013
Objective: To study the demands of community health education on the empty nest elderly and analyse the related fac-
tors. Methods: The 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36), activities of daily living (ADL) and the community
health services satisfaction scale were used to investigate the community health service demand and supply of 358
empty nesters. Results: The results showed that the ability of self-care was worse and needed more nursing or caring
from others in the empty nest elderly; the empty nest elderly, in comparison with the non-empty -nest elderly, had lower
physical and mental scores. With the age changing, the requirements of community health services were different in
empty nest elderly and the satisfaction of community health service was low in the empty nest (39.1%). Conclusions:
Empty nest elderly generally needed the different degree of community health education demands. The utilization rates
of community health education were low.
Keywords: Empty Nest Elderly; Community Health Education
1. Introduction
With the accelerating pace of population aging popula-
tion and the miniaturization tren d of the family structure,
the proportion of empty nesters will further improve [1].
In China, the number of empty-nest families is on the rise,
especially in some towns. Empty nests are a special
group in society. As the nesters are unaccompanied and
unattended, it usually causes many problems in physical,
psychologic al and social field.
Community health service takes health as the center,
the family as a unit and community-wide, which is the
health service system of prevention, care, rehabilitation,
health care and health education [2]. The elderly, child-
ren and the disabled are the main service targets of
community health service. With the aging of population,
rapid development of empty nests, nesters have gradually
become an object group of community health service.
The characteristics of empty nesters are of large quan-
tity, there will be more service projects and difficulties.
Thus they will become the work focus of the community
health service. Community health education is the core
role in the community health service, which could guide
the elders (to treat and p revent diseases) and improv e the
quality of life. Compared with some developed countries,
the development of Chinese community health education
is relatively late and the system is still not yet perfect.
In this study, the community health education demand
and supply of empty nesters were used to study to con-
stantly improve the community health service, which
provided the scientific bas e for the government and rele-
vant departments, so as to establish a perfect community
health services for the aged system and further improved
the life quality of the empty nesters.
2. Methods
2.1. Subjects
A total of 801 empty nesters in Jilin County were invited
to participate in the study, with informed consent after
receiving information about the goal and the method of
the investigation, together with approval from the local
government authorities, 728 empty nesters completed the
questionnaire thoroughly. 45 elders were not able to
complete the questionnaire because of physical or mental
disabilities, and 28 elders returned incomplete data. The
response rate of effective questionnaires was 90.88%
(728/801). In the study, elders were classified as empty
nest group and non-emp t y -nest group by distinguishing,
Are you living with any of your children together?If
the answer was noinstead of yes, this was seen as an
empty nester [2].
2.2. Instruments
The 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36), devel-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. ENG
oped in the US and employed in population surveys
around the world, has been shown to be a valid measure
of general health in popu lation studies . A ctivities of d aily
living (ADL) is composed with independent living table
(physiscal self-maintenance scale, PSMS) and instru-
mental actiities of daily liing scale (instrumental activi-
ties of daily living scale, IADL), it is used to evaluate the
ability of daily life [3].
2.3. Data Analysis
The association between SF-36 scores in both the empty
nest and non-empty -nes t elderly were explored with
Pearsons correlations. We used the linear regression
model with conditional stepwise analysis to study the
significant factors predictive of loneliness. All data were
analyzed with the SPSS 13.0 statistical analysis so ftware
package [3].
3. Results
3.1. General Information
The resulting data includ ed 358 (49.2%) empty nest elder
adults and 370 (50.8%) non-empty-nest elder adults.
Ages of these respondents ranged from 60 to 81 years
(mean = 61.7 ± 6.78 years) for the empty-nest group and
from 60 to 83 years (mean = 63.1 ± 7.21 years) for the
non-emp t y-nest group. Most of the empty nest and non-
emp t y-nest elderly had finished their education to the
primary school level, and had been in the medical system.
There were no significant differences between the empty
nest and non-empt y -nest group in gender, age, educa-
tional level, marital status and insurance coverage (P >
0.05) (Table 1). The empty nest elderly, in comparison
with the non-empty-nest elderly, had lower physical (95%
CI = 0.217 to 6.131, t = 2.208, df = 533) and mental (95%
CI = 0.812 to 6.281, t = 2.511, df = 523.7) scores from
the SF-36. 581 elders were su ffered from chronic disease s
(79.8%), 357 elders were suffered from one disease
(49%), 114 elders had two kinds of diseases (19.9%), 22
elders had three kinds of diseases (15.7%) and 147 elders
without evidence of disease (20.2%). The chronic dis-
eases threatened the elderly health are followed by
hypertension (47.3%), diabetes (24.8%), osteoarthritis
(10.8%), stroke (9.1%) and heart disease (8%).
3.2. The Ability of Daily Life Were Decreased
Activities of daily living (ADL) is composed with inde-
pendent living skills (physical self-maintenance scale,
PSMS, including food, clothing, wash, and leaving the
toilet, walk and a bath ) and instrumental daily living
skills (IADL, including making phone calls, shopping,
cooking, ho usework, laundry, using the traffic too ls, me-
dication and providing for oneself economy). The above
Table 1. The comparison of community health services be-
tween empty nest and not empty nest elderly .
Empty nest group
(n = 358)
Not Empty nest
group (n = 370)
n % n % p
Health examination
248 69.2 256 69.2 >0.05
Door medical
services 212 59.1 170 48.1 <0.05
Health guide 218 60.9 221 59.7 >0.05
Domestic sickbed
96 26.8 57 15.4 <0.05
Rehabilitation care
68 19 71 19.1 >0.05
Other need 21 5.8 27 6.4 >0.05
No need 35 9.8 36 9.7 >0.05
14 items daily life events were used in this study. “Do
not help, some difficulties to need help and completely
cannot provide for oneself” were used to evaluated the
capability. The results showed that the ADL of elders
drop as the growth of the age, the ability of self-care
were worse. In comparison with the non-empty-nest, the
empty nest elderly needed more nursing or caring from
3.3. The Comparison of Community Health
Education Demands in Different Age of the
Empty Nest Elderly
The community health service demands were studied in
different age of the empty nest elderly. The results
showed that the 80 years old group urgently needed door
medical services (49.5%), compared with other services,
the differences were statistically significant (P < 0.05);
compared with other services, the demand of rehabilita-
tion health care was highest in 70 years old group
(42.1%); the demand of health guide was highest in 60
years old group (42%) (Table 2); With the age changed,
the requirements of community health services were dif-
4. Discussion
The sick and aging made it impossible to provide for
themselves which made the empty nest elderly need
more help. Diagnosis and treatment of domestic sickbed
demands were high in empty nest elderly. This pheno-
menon hints that the community health education service
development space is very large [4]. Compared with the
non-emp t y-n es t elderly, the empty nest elderly had poor
psychological condition. Therefore, the community health
service should pay attention to the empty nest elderly on
health services.
The results showed that the demands of the communi-
ty health service had differences among different age of
the empty nest elderly. Group of 80-year-old urgently
needed door health services (49.5%). This might be rela-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. ENG
Table 2. The comparison of community health education
services between different age empty nest elderly.
60 years old
group (n = 138%)
60 years old
group (n = 138%)
80 years old
group (n = 99%)
examination 33 (23.9) 21 (17.4) 10 (10.1)
Health guide 58 (42)* 20 (16.5) 9 (9.1)
Door medical
services 11 (8) 11 (9.1) 49 (49.5)**
Domestic sickbed
8 (5.8) 10 (8.3) 19 (19.2)
Rehabilitation care
20 (14.4) 51 (42.1)#
10 (10.1)
Other need 4 (2.9) 5 (4.1) 2 (2)
No need 4 (2.9) 3 (2.5) 1 (1)
*denotes a significant difference to other services (P < 0.05); #denotes a
significant difference to other services (P < 0.05); **denotes a significant
difference to other services (P < 0.05).
tive to two reasons. On the one hand, as the growth of the
age, the rates of chronic diseases increased; on the other
hand, the children of empty nest elderly were not at
nearby. They were lack of family chap erone in sick times.
So the demand of door medical services is more urgent.
Groups of 70 years old and 60 years old needed the de-
mands of rehabilitation medical care and health guide. It
might be relative to higher culture, a certain economic
income, small economic pressure in young empty nest
elderly. They could take the initiative for health know-
ledge and have strong health concept and self-health care.
Therefore, community health service center should ac-
tively explore new mode and a new method to adapt the
various demands of empty nest elderly in different age
levels [5].
According to the results of this survey, the community
health service center provided service projects. The de-
mands of empty nest elderly were as follows: regular
health examination (69.2%), the door medical services
(59.1%), health guide (60.9%) and rehabilitation health
care (19%). Only a few old men take part in the regular
health education and health services. Some community
did not begin domestic sickbed medical care and rehabil-
itation services. The supply of community health service,
especially active supply had bigger difference. The main
reasons are that Chinas community health service net-
work is still incomplete and inadequately invested. The
function is not strong and the personnel quality is not
high. The impact is not stron g . These reasons all hinder
the development of community health services. The
findings from our study could provide the government
with some information about the demands of community
health services in the empty nest elderly. Results of the
study suggest that we need to be aware of the empty nest
elder adults’ demands in community health services.
According to the actual situation in China, the publicity
of community health service should be strengthened
through the billboards, regularly health seminars, the
prevention and treatment of common diseases to raise the
elderly self-care consciousness, self-health care and psy-
chological health level. The health records were estab-
lished for each empty nest elderly to take countermea-
sures to prevent and control measures to improve the
quality of life among the empty nest elderly. Actions
must be taken in the care for the elderly, especially for
the empty nest elderly [6].
5. Acknowledgements
This work was partially supported by the Social science
foundation project of Jilin province (2011B146).
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