142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Disease, social support and perceived health across the lifespan in a community representative sample

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Sunday, November 16, 2014

Justin Heinze, PhD , Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Dan Kruger, PhD , School of Public Health, Prevention Research Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Thomas Reischl, PhD , Health Behavior and Health Eduction, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Suzanne Cupal, MPH , Community Health, Genesee County Health Department, Flint, MI
Marc Zimmerman, PhD , Prevention Research Center of Michigan, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Background/Purpose: Chronic disease can significantly affect well-being, whereas social support is related to both better health and well-being (Gallant, 2003; Kruger et al, 2007). Less is known about whether facets of social support (friends; family; children; community) differ in importance throughout the life-course and differentially ameliorate the effects of disease across the life span.

Method: In a community representative sample of White and African American respondents (N =1,349), we examined the relationship between the cumulative presence of major disease (cancer, stroke, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension) and perceived general and mental/emotional well-being.  Adults from randomly selected households participated in telephone interviews (White = 67%, Black = 27%, Hispanic = 1%, multiracial 3%, Native American = 1%).  Items were drawn from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. We used hierarchical regression analyses to test the relative contributions of demographic predictors (race, sex, marriage status, education in step 1), cumulative disease (step 2) and social support from friends, blood relatives, children and community members (step 3). 

Results: Across all ages, greater presence of disease predicted poorer reported general health and also mental/emotional well-being for respondents 40 and above. In contrast, social support predicted better reported general and mental/emotional well-being. Different facets of support predicted better perceived general and mental/emotional health across the lifespan: support from friends or blood relatives for young adults (< 30), support from children for middle-aged adults (31-60), and community support for adults over 60.  Social support, however, did not mediate the negative effects of chronic disease.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the changing role of social support at different stages of the life course. Compare the hypothesized mediation model to an alternative explanation. Identify social support intervention opportunities based on a life stage approach.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My research interests include developmental transitions and social factors that predict successful adaptation and adjustment across the life span. I have worked on several research projects using data from Genesee County as a member of the Prevention Research Center of Michigan.
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.