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Am J Public Health. 2006 Aug;96(8):1456-61. Epub 2006 Jun 29.

Social capital and health: civic engagement, community size, and recall of health messages.

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  • 1Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass, USA. vish_viswanath@dfci.harvard.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

We explored the effects of community integration and pluralism on recall of cardiovascular disease health information messages.

METHODS:

With 1980-1983 data from the Minnesota Heart Health Program, we examined whether ties to community groups were associated with recall of health messages, and whether this relation was modified by size and degree of differentiation of the community.

RESULTS:

A higher level of civic engagement through ties to community groups was associated with better recall of health messages. Ties to community groups independently contributed to better message recall even after control for gender, education, and other variables. The moderating role of community size was non-significant but intriguing.

CONCLUSIONS:

Community group membership could increase exposure to health messages, providing a critical pathway for social capital to influence health promotion and, thus, public health outcomes.

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