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Soc Sci Med. 1998 Sep;47(5):635-43.

Social relations and mortality. An eleven year follow-up study of 70-year-old men and women in Denmark.

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Department of Social Medicine and Psychosocial Health, Institute of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.



To identify which aspects of social relations among 70-year-old men and women are predictive of mortality 11 years later.


The baseline study in 1984 included 734 70-year-old men and women in Glostrup (county of Copenhagen). The variables comprised the structure and the function of the social network, education, income and functional ability. Eleven years later, in November 1995, information about deaths was obtained from the Central National Register.


The study showed an independent association between social relations and mortality. Men who did not help others with repairs and who lived alone and women with no social support to other tasks had increased risk of dying during the follow-up period.


This study supports (1) that there is an association between social relations and mortality, (2) that two aspects of the function of social relations matters: (a) to receive support for small or larger tasks needed, (b) to help others with different tasks, and (3) that social relations may serve different functions for men and women.

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