Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Linda A. LeBlanc

Second Advisor

Dr. James E. Carr

Third Advisor

Dr. R. Wayne Fuqua

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Debra Lindetrom-Hazel


Dehydration is a serious health concern in the elderly, constituting 1 of the 10 most common causes for hospitalization in this population (Sanservo, 1997). Previous research on dehydration has typically been conducted within nursing home settings (Chidester & Spangler, 1997; Holbren, Hassell, Williams, & Helle, 1999; Spangler, Risley, & Bilyew, 1984) without specific attention to the variables maintaining dehydration for any given individual. A functional behavioral approach to assessment and prevention or intervention for dehydration would involve identifying maintaining variables in the environment that can be altered to produce effective, non-intrusive interventions to increase healthy fluid consumption. The current project involved development of a functional assessment interview for elders at risk for dehydration and investigation of the effectiveness of function-based interventions for increasing hydration. Three female older adults participated as pilot subjects for refining the assessment tool. Six elders participated in the final version of the assessment interview, and four of these six (three females, 1 male) also received the subsequent intervention. Results indicated that the Hydration Interview appears to be a useful interview tool in identifying potential barriers to effective hydration. While the resulting function-based interventions did not appear to significantly alter the level of urine specific gravity, they did demonstrate utility in increasing the level of healthy fluids and decreasing the level of unhealthy fluids consumed as reflected in the Food and Fluid Diaries. These behavior changes were maintained at a 4-week follow-up.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access