Online Program

Change in social network based functional support and symptoms of depression

Monday, November 4, 2013

Luis M. Falcon, PhD, College of Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, University of Massachusetts at Lowell, Lowell, MA
Marcia Pescador, MS, CPHHD--Boston Puerto Rican Health Study, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Christina Lee, PhD, CPHHD--The Boston Puerto Rican Health Study, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Research documents an association between lack of social network based functional support and poor mental health. There is evidence that, among Latinos, social support buffers against depression and that the quantity and quality of social relationships impact mental health in the short and long term. The mechanisms underlying how the source of support (family, friends, acquaintances, others) and the amount of functional support affect health outcomes are not well understood. Support coming from blood relatives, for example, may be more effective in protecting against depression symptoms than a similar amount of support from other sources. Data come from 1,164 participants (aged 45-75 at baseline) in waves one (T1) and 2 (T2) of the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study. We use Principal Component Analysis to disaggregate the social support coming from blood relatives, friends, non-blood relatives and community members in T1 and T2. First, we describe change in depression symptoms and in social support from T1 to T2. Second, using a Generalized Linear Model, we examine the cross-sectional effect of source of social support on depression at T1 and T2. Third, we assess the longitudinal effect of change in source and amount of social support on change in depression symptoms over the 2-year time period. Cross-sectional and longitudinal results suggest that the support coming from blood relatives and close friends have a strong and significant protective effect against depression when compared to support coming from other types of relationships. Findings are important to explain the declining mental health of this population.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe changes in source and quantity of social support over time for a population of older Puerto Ricans. Assess the effect and relative importance of different sources of social support on depression symptoms.

Keyword(s): Mental Health, Hispanic

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have extensive experience studying health disparities with a focus on Hispanics. Over the last several years I have served as PI or co-PI of 3 multi-year NIH funded projects. I have interests in the role of social support on various health outcomes for minority populations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.