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Am J Public Health. 2009 Oct;99(10):1872-8. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.146894. Epub 2009 Aug 20.

Social support and self-reported health status of older adults in the United States.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center, 300 Crittenden Blvd., Rochester, NY 14642, USA.



We determined whether a representative national probability sample of US community-dwelling older adults who reported less social support also reported poorer general health status, which is a robust predictor of prospective mortality among elders.


We analyzed 2 subsamples generated via random sampling with replacement from the full analytic sample of adults aged 60 years and older in the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (n = 3476). We built multinomial logit models with the first analytic subsample (n = 1732). Then we tested the final models on the second subsample (n = 1744) to assess the differences in odds of reporting poor, fair, or good versus very good or excellent health. We fit the cross-validated final models to the full analytic sample.


After we controlled for age, race, gender, and educational attainment, older persons across all analytic samples who reported that they needed more support also reported having poorer health compared with better health 2 times more often than did older persons who were satisfied with the support available to them (odds ratio [OR] = 2.4; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.7, 3.4; P < .001).


In the United States, older persons' satisfaction with the emotional support available to them is associated with better self-reported health status.

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