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J Rural Med. 2018 May;13(1):18-25. doi: 10.2185/jrm.2949. Epub 2018 May 29.

Contribution of social relationships to self-rated health among Japanese community-dwelling elderly.

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Oita University of Nursing and Health Sciences, Japan.
Nagasaki University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Japan.


Objective: Participation in social activities is associated with physical and psychological health in the community-dwelling elderly population. We examined the two factors of social relations and community health resources, associated with higher self-rated health levels in the community-dwelling elderly. Methods: A total of 145 community-dwelling elderly people ≥ 65 years old from two neighborhood associations in Nagasaki City were recruited for this study, representing 85% of the officially registered ≥ 65-year-old population in the target area. Face-to-face interviews using a structured questionnaire were conducted by trained interviewers in August 2009, with questions related to sociodemographic characteristics, social relationships, and self-rated health (SRH). Community health resources (type and walking distance from home) were evaluated by one of the authors as a community assessment. Results: Seventy-eight community-dwelling elderly people (25 men and 53 women) participated in the study. Elderly people who reported going out every day were more likely to show higher SRH scores (excellent/good) than those going out less often (OR: 3.7; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.0, 14.2; P = 0.056). The numbers of interactions with friends in higher and lower SRH groups were 6.5 ± 8.4 (mean ± standard deviation) and 2.4 ± 1.1 (P = 0.01, Mann-Whitney U test), respectively. The numbers of relatives talking on the phone in higher and lower SRH groups were 2.9 ± 1.3 and 2.2 ± 1.2 (P = 0.031, Mann-Whitney U test), respectively. Meeting scores with friends in higher and lower SRH groups were 7.8 ± 5.8 and 4.5 ± 3.6 (P = 0.068), respectively. The scores of community health resources among higher and lower SRH groups were 21.2 ± 1.5 and 20.9 ± 1.4 (P = 0.547), respectively. The scores of community association/activities in higher and lower SRH groups were 3.9 ± 1.0 and 3.6 ± 0.9 (P = 0.227), respectively. Conclusion: This study indicated the importance of interaction with friends and relatives for maintaining higher SRH among community-dwelling elderly people.


community health resource; community-dwelling elderly; self-rated health; social relation

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