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Reciprocal Effects Between Health and Social Support in Older Adults’ Relationships With Their...

Reciprocal Effects Between Health and Social Support in Older Adults’ Relationships

With Their Children and Friends


Jung-Hwa Ha | Department of Social Welfare, Seoul National University

Sang Kyoung Kahng | Department of Social Welfare, Seoul National University

Namkee Choi | School of Social Work, University of Texas, Austin


This study examined the longitudinal reciprocal effects between health and social support in older adults’ relationships with their children and friends. Data are from the 2006 and 2010 waves of the Health and Retirement Study (N ¼ 3,760). We focused on three specific aspects of social support: frequency of contact, positive interactions, and negative interactions. We used autoregressive cross-lagged models to examine the bidirectional effects between social support and health. When the bidirectional effects between health and social support were simultaneously examined, the longitudinal effect of social support on health was not significant. In contrast, older adults’ poor health was associated with

decreased contact and decreased positive interactions with friends as well as with increased negative interactions with their adult children and friends. The findings suggest that older adults’ poor health has a negative impact on their social relationships and that such effect surpasses the impact of social relationships on health.


Keywords: health, social support, social relationships, autoregressive cross-lagged

models


Research on Aging 2017, Vol. 39(2) 300–321 DOI: 10.1177/0164027515611182