Social Networks, Membership, and Participation on Health Outcomes

Lai S. Tso, University of Michigan

Recent studies have pointed to the importance of social support and control in determining health outcomes. Existing research suggests a strong association between perceived health status and mortality risk and uncertainty regarding the relationship between social support and psychological distress. The objective of this study is to compare the social support theory against the role strains theory as an explanatory framework for how relationships affect health outcomes. Using cross-sectional survey data collected specifically for constructing social support variables, this paper contributes to the discussion by examining how (1) presence of social network types (2) frequency of communication within social networks (3) membership status in voluntary organizations and (4) the level of participation in social organizations translate into self-rated health status and levels of psychological distress by sex and age. Analysis will control for influences from educational attainment, income, work status and control, marital status, and household organization.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Health and Mortality