02/18 New peer-reviewed article on successful aging and pet ownership!

Dr. Pruchno and colleagues have a new peer-reviewed article titled, "Successful Aging, Social Support, and Ownership of a Companion Animal." published in Anthrozoos.

In this paper, Dr. Pruchno and her colleagues examine the associations between social support, dog and cat ownership and successful aging.

To read the article, please click here.

04/17 Time 6 of ORANJ BOWL℠ to Begin

It is with excitement we announce the launch of Time 6 of ORANJ BOWL℠!

Starting April 3rd, ORANJ BOWL℠ participants will be contacted to participate in Time 6 of the ongoing study. The goal of the Time 6 interview is to follow-up with participants about their health, well-being, functioning, living environments, and ability to cope with Hurricane Sandy. Our grant funds us to understand how Hurricane Sandy impacts an individual’s functional ability. We also hope to learn about older adults’ resilience over time after the Hurricane. We will ask many of the same questions we asked at Time 1 and assess some additional constructs.

Time 6 is funded by the National Institute on Aging.

03/17 Dr. Pruchno and colleagues are published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B

In their article titled, "Modeling Successful Aging Over Time in the Context of a Disaster", Dr. Pruchno and colleagues found that people exposed to Hurricane Sandy experienced sharper declines in subjective Successful Agigng and indicators of objective Successful Aging (pain and functional ability) than people not exposed.

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6/25/14 National Institute on Aging Grant

The National Institute on Aging awarded a 5-year grant for $2.8 Million to Dr. Pruchno. The project “Effects of Hurricane Sandy on Functional Limitation Trajectories of Older People” will enable Pruchno’s team to understand the effects of a natural disaster on older people. Results from this project will inform development of interventions that will reduce disability, improve the quality of life, and reduce health care utilization and expenditures.

The following is the project abstract:

Although natural disasters present serious challenges for residents of affected communities, many questions about their effects on the physical health of older adults remain. The long-term goal is to inform intervention and resource planning efforts designed to mitigate the effects of disasters on older people, reduce health care utilization and expenditures and improve the quality of life of older people.

The objective of this application is to identify how trajectories of functional limitations are affected by disaster. Our central hypothesis is that the majority of older adults exposed to disaster are resilient, healthcare utilization and expenditures associated with some functional limitation trajectories in the wake of disaster are significant, and pre-disaster characteristics of individuals and communities can distinguish trajectories of resilience and vulnerability.

Our hypothesis was formulated based on our previous empirical and conceptual work and on work by others. The rationale for the proposed research is that, once it is known how disasters affect functional limitation trajectories, interventions can be developed that will reduce the vulnerability of older adults and increase their resilience in the face of disaster, resulting in new and innovative approaches to improving the quality of life for older people.

The hypothesis will be tested by pursing three specific aims: (1) To ascertain the effects of a natural disaster on the functional limitation trajectories of older adults;
(2) To contrast the healthcare utilization and expenditures associated with functional limitation trajectories for older people experiencing disaster with those of older people not exposed to disaster; and
(3) To identify the pathways by which risk factors and resilience resources influence trajectories of functional limitation.

The aims will be addressed by building on a longitudinal panel of 1,977 people aged 65 to 80 when Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey. Three post-hurricane self-reported assessments would complement data from two prior data collection efforts. These data would be linked with Medicare/Medicaid claims data. This work is significant because it is the first step in a continuum of research expected to lead to the development of interventions that will bolster the capabilities of older people to face natural disasters without increasing functional limitations.

The proposed research is innovative, because it: (1) focuses on functional limitations, a linchpin in the disability cycle,
(2) examines the effects of disaster on a large representative sample of people living in one of the states hardest hit by a recent hurricane, and
(3) builds on data collected before the storm struck, includes people with and without direct exposure to the storm, and has 3 post- disaster assessments, yielding one of the few studies able to disentangle causal relationships attributable to disaster.

Knowledge from this project will advance understanding of disaster's effects on older people, and inform interventions likely to improve their quality of life, both before and after disasters strike.

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3/29/14 Surrounded By Madness: A Memoir of Mental Illness & Family Secrets

"What was the likelihood that my adopted daughter would have my father's hazel eyes and my mother's mental illness?"

In Dr. Pruchno's memoir, Surrounded By Madness: A Memoir of Mental Illness & Family Secrets, she shares her experience dealing with mental illness in her family through her mother and her adopted daughter. The book has garnered positive reviews, and it is now available at online booksellers.

The book website:
Click here for the book trailer
Click here to order your copy from Amazon!

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3/21/14 New Peer-Reviewed Article in American Journal of Public Health

Dr. Pruchno has a new peer-reviewed article titled, "Neighborhood Food Environment and Obesity in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: Individual and Neighborhood Effects" published in American Journal of Public Health.

In this paper, Dr. Pruchno and her colleagues tested hypotheses about the relationship between neighborhood-level food sources and obesity using the ORANJ BOWL study. They found that densities of fast-food establishments and storefronts were positively associated with obesity.

To read the article, please click here.

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1/2/14 Blogger on Psychology Today

Dr. Pruchno will begin her role as a blogger on, the website of the magazine Psychology Today, featuring blogs written by expert authors including psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, science journalists, and more.

Titled All in the Family: Mental Illness and Caregiving Across the Generation, she will blog on every Wednesday about a topic related to mental health and/or illness. She will examine the effects that a host of mental illnesses such as mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, ADHD, autism, and personality disorders has on the people who suffer from them, their family members, and our communities. She will also comment on current events as well as on findings from the latest research studies.

All in the Family: Mental Illness and Caregiving Across the Generation.

To read the first blog post, "I'm as Mad as Hell, and I'm Not Going To Take This Anymore," click here.

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10/09/13 ASPR Grant

On September 30, 2013, Dr. Pruchno was awarded $680,000 by the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response (ASPR). The goal of the 2-year project, “Social Capital and Resilience of Older People Exposed to Hurricane Sandy” is to protect the health and safety of older Americans during emergencies, foster resilience in response to emergencies, and inform the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

Project Description:

The New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging in conjunction with community-based organizations and an interdisciplinary team of scholars having expertise studying aging, disasters, and resilience using mixed analytic methods proposes a 2-year project whose goal is to protect the health and safety of older Americans during emergencies, foster resilience in response to emergencies, and inform the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Sandy. 

The objective of the project is to identify aspects of neighborhood social connectedness (social capital) promoting resilience of older adults exposed to Hurricane Sandy.  To test a model positing that neighborhood social capital plays a critical role in determining the resilience of older people exposed to disaster, we will:

  1. - Conduct focus groups with staff from community-based organizations in 9 of N.J.’s counties hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, yielding information about peri-hurricane social capital
  2. - Re-interview 3,271 older people participating in ORANJ BOWL℠ providing information about resilience and post-hurricane social capital
  3. - Link Medicare and Medicaid healthcare utilization data for these 3,271 people and 2010 Census data regarding the neighborhoods in which they live, enhancing data provided by self-report
  4. - Analyze data using sophisticated, multi-level modeling and spatial statistics

The outcomes of the project include identification of: (1) ways that neighborhood social capital affects resilience of older people exposed to a natural disaster and (2) actionable strategies for increasing resilience of older people.

Results will inform interventions promoting neighborhood social capital, reducing the vulnerability of older adults and increasing their resilience to disaster.

Investigative Team:

George A. Bonanno, Ph.D., Teachers College Columbia University
Lisa M. Brown, Ph.D., University of South Florida
Zachary Christman, Ph.D., Rowan University
Margaret Perkinson, Ph.D., Saint Louis University
Karen A. Roberto, Ph.D., Virginia Tech
Miriam Rose, M.Ed. (consultant)
Laura Sands, Ph.D., Purdue University
Maureen Wilson-Genderson, Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University
Alex Zautra, Ph.D., Arizona State University

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© 2014-2016 Rachel A. Pruchno