About the Elderly Care Research Center (ECRC)

The Elderly Care Research Center (ECRC) is a multidisciplinary, social research organization affiliated with the Department of Sociology at Case Western Reserve University. The Center was established in 1967 by its Director, Dr. Eva Kahana, who is the Robson Professor of Sociology, Humanities, Nursing and Medicine in the Department of Sociology at CWRU. Research related to aging, health, and mental health is conducted by Center staff and associates. Funding for these projects is usually obtained from federal agencies such as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Institutes on Aging (NIA). Senior research scientists and faculty from other universities regularly participate in research projects conducted at the Center.

In addition to its research activities, the Center serves as a teaching facility, training graduate and postdoctoral students from diverse social science disciplines in the theory and methods of social gerontological research. Students are given an opportunity to obtain “Hands on” experience in conducting research and to translate formal coursework into practical applications within a research setting. Center Staff also serve in an advisory capacity to various educational programs and community agencies serving the elderly.

Primary activities of the Center include theory based research on diverse topics relevant to adaptation and well-being of the elderly. A programmatic thrust at the Center has been the focus on health and mental health outcomes of stress, coping and adaptation.

Research has focused on predictors of wellness as well as of vulnerability. Study samples have ranged from the frail and institutionalized aged to adventurous older adults undertaking long distance moves. Cross-national and cross-cultural comparisons and focus on ethnic differences also represent a unique aspect of our orientation to research. In recognition of the diverse environmental and social influences on well-being of the elderly, research has been interdisciplinary in nature, bringing to bear qualitative as well as quantitative methods of sociology, psychology and other social science disciplines on the issues under study. In addition to publishing results of research in professional journals and presenting them to the scientific community, ECRC is committed to broad dissemination of research in a readily understood format to community organizations, professionals and to elderly participants in diverse studies. Effective intervention programs have been developed and implemented based on findings of some research projects.

The Elderly Care Research Center is affiliated with the Center on Aging and Health at CWRU. ECRC trainees may enroll in the Gerontology Certificate program offered at CWRU through the Center. ECRC has co-sponsored exhibits with the Center at the Gerontological Society of America meetings and Research Day presentations at CWRU. Our staff also actively cooperates with the Western Reserve Geriatric Education Center, which offers continuing education programs to practitioners and health care professionals. In addition, there are research seminars, which offer opportunities for informal exchanges on research progress, methodological challenges and developments.