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
- Cross-cultural gerontology
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