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Sources of social support associated with health and quality of life: a cross-sectional study among Canadian and Latin American older adults
  1. Emmanuelle Bélanger1,
  2. Tamer Ahmed2,
  3. Afshin Vafaei3,
  4. Carmen Lucia Curcio4,
  5. Susan P Phillips5,
  6. Maria Victoria Zunzunegui6
  1. 1Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Université de Montréal, Public Health Research Institute (IRSPUM), Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  2. 2Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  3. 3Department of Public Health Sciences, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4Faculty of Health Sciences, Research Group on Geriatrics and Gerontology, International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics Collaborative Centre, University of Caldas, Manizales, Colombia
  5. 5Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  6. 6Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Public Health Research Institute (IRSPUM), Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Emmanuelle Bélanger; e.belanger{at}umontreal.ca

Abstract

Objectives To examine whether the association between emotional support and indicators of health and quality of life differs between Canadian and Latin American older adults.

Design Cross-sectional analysis of the International Mobility in Aging Study (IMIAS). Social support from friends, family members, children and partner was measured with a previously validated social network and support scale (IMIAS-SNSS). Low social support was defined as ranking in the lowest site-specific quartile. Prevalence ratios (PR) of good health, depression and good quality of life were estimated with Poisson regression models, adjusting for age, gender, education, income and disability in activities of daily living.

Setting Kingston and Saint-Hyacinthe in Canada, Manizales in Colombia and Natal in Brazil.

Participants 1600 community-dwelling adults aged 65–74 years, n=400 at each site.

Outcome measures Likert scale question on self-rated health, Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale and 10-point analogical quality-of-life (QoL) scale.

Results Relationships between social support and study outcomes differed between Canadian and Latin American older adults. Among Canadians, those without a partner had a lower prevalence of good health (PR=0.90; 95% CI 0.82 to 0.98), and those with high support from friends had a higher prevalence of good health (PR=1.09; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.18). Among Latin Americans, depression was lower among those with high levels of support from family (PR=0.63; 95% CI 0.48 to 0.83), children (PR=0.60; 95% CI 0.45 to 0.80) and partner (PR=0.57; 95% CI 0.31 to 0.77); good QoL was associated with high levels of support from children (PR=1.54; 95% CI 1.20 to 1.99) and partner (PR=1.31; 95% CI 1.03 to 1.67).

Conclusions Among older adults, different sources of support were relevant to health across societies. Support from friends and having a partner were related to good health in Canada, whereas in Latin America, support from family, children and partner were associated with less depression and better QoL.

  • Social support
  • Social determinants of health
  • Aging
  • Cross-cultural gerontology

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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