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Fam Pract. 1991 Mar;8(1):68-83.

Social support and social networks: their relationship to the successful and unsuccessful survival of elderly people in the community. An analysis of concepts and a review of the evidence.

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  • 1Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine University of London.


Many studies suggest that there is a relationship between social support and physical and psychological health status, risk of institutionalization and mortality of the elderly. Although longitudinal analyses confirm these suggestions, all studies experience problems with network methodology, and none use comparable operational or working definitions. It is known that there is an effect between these variables, but the nature of the relationship is still unknown. This paper reviews existing research on social networks, social support and associations with health status, mortality and risk of institutionalization.

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