Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Aging Studies

Major Professor

Ross Andel, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Debra Dobbs, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Bass, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Cathy L. McEvoy, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer R. Salmon, Ph.D.


Nursing home placement, Dementia, Nursing assistants, Turnover, Benefits


The aging of the nation in the coming decades will contribute to an increased demand for long-term care. Given this trend, it is becoming increasingly important to understand utilization of services along the continuum of care and to determine factors that influence the provision of quality care. These insights are needed to reduce national expenditures on long-term care and to maximize independence and well-being among older adults.

The purpose of the present dissertation was to explore factors that influence the utilization and quality of long-term care by conducting three separate studies. The first study examined risk of nursing home (NH) placement in a frail sample of older adults receiving publicly-funded long-term care in two settings: home and community-based services (HCBS) or assisted living (AL). Specifically, it explored whether these settings of care modify the relationship between dementia and NH placement. The second study examined NH organizational characteristics and job characteristics of staff in relation to turnover of nursing assistants (NAs) in a nationally representative sample of NHs. Using the same sample, the final study examined the presence of employment-based benefits of NAs and explored the relationship between NH organizational characteristics and the availability of staff benefits.

Findings from this dissertation can contribute to a greater understanding of the use of long-term care services and the retention of staff to provide quality care. In the first study, AL was associated with longer time to NH placement for individuals with dementia when compared to HCBS. In the second study, the provision of competitive wages and benefits, involvement of NAs in resident care planning, and high levels of nurse staffing were associated with lower NA turnover, which may be important for quality of NH care. In the final study, for-profit ownership and high Medicaid occupancy were negatively associated with NA benefits whereas facility size, chain membership, occupancy level, union involvement, and education of the NH administrator were positively associated with benefits offered to these staff. Collectively, the findings from this dissertation may have important implications for policy makers, providers, and consumers of long-term care.