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The Gerontologist 43:628-637 (2003)
© 2003 The Gerontological Society of America

Conducting Research on Home Environments: Lessons Learned and New Directions

Laura N. Gitlin, PhD1,2,

Correspondence: Address all correspondence to Dr. Laura N. Gitlin, Director, Community and Homecare Research Division, 130 South 9th Street, Suite 513, Philadelphia, PA 19107. E-mail: laura.gitlin{at}

The study of home environments is a research domain within the field of environmental gerontology that addresses issues related to aging in place. Despite the importance of aging at home, there are few recent studies in this area and most are descriptive and lack theoretical direction. This article examines the current state of research on home environments from which methodological challenges and new directions for future research are identified. Three broad research queries are posed: What should we measure and why in home environments? How do older people and their family members use the home environment in health, illness, and caregiving? What are the interrelationships between the home environment, psychological well-being, and daily functioning throughout the aging process? Suggestions for future research on home environments are discussed and the implications for advancing environmental gerontology highlighted. Specifically, the home environment offers a testing ground for generic environmental constructs and their measurement as well as a unique setting from which new understandings and constructs of person–environment fit can emerge.

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