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Health Educ Q. 1984 Spring;11(1):91-105.

Life events, social network, life-style, and health: an analysis of the 1979 National Survey of Personal Health Practices and Consequences.


The relationships among social structure, stress, social support, life-style health behavior, and health status are explored in this multivariate analysis of data from the National Survey of Personal Health Practices and Consequences. Path analyses showed social structural factors to influence life-style practices both directly and indirectly through social network and negative life events. For women, social network and life events had direct relationships to health related life-style practices, while age and income acted both directly and indirectly through social network and, for income, through life events. Education was also directly related to life-style. For men, social network and education had the only direct effects on health practices, and age and income had indirect effects through network. We then examined the relative contributions of the social network index elements, life events, and demographic variables to each of the life-style practices. These analyses confirmed the importance of gender, education, age, and income to predicting life-style behaviors. Negative life events were associated with smoking for both men and women, sleep for women only, and physical activity and alcohol use for men, which suggests sex-specific norms for coping with stress. For both sexes, church attendance and marriage were associated with favorable smoking and alcoholic use, implicating cognitive social support or social control as a mediator of health promotion. Finally, analyses for each gender using health status as the outcome variable indicated that age, income, education, and life events affected health directly, while the effects of church attendance and marriage were likely mediated through smoking and alcohol behaviors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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