Gender differences in the relationship between social network support and mortality: A longitudinal study of an elderly cohort

Diana Shye, John P. Mullooly, Donald K. Freeborn, Clyde R. Pope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

215 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite well-recognized gender differences in patterns of social network support, few studies have explored whether the pathways by which social support affects mortality risk differ for men and women. In a 15-year follow-up study of elderly HMO members, we found that network size affected men's mortality risk indirectly, through their health status, while no such indirect effect was found for women. The data also suggested that network size had a direct protective effect on mortality risk for both men and women, with men gaining protection at a lower level of network size than women. These findings confirm the need for a gender-specific approach to further research on this subject, and suggest the need to measure variables that capture the different meaning and value of social network participation for men and women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)935-947
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume41
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1995
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • elderly
  • gender differences
  • mortality
  • social network support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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